Grab your new backpack and sharpen your pencils. It’s back to school time, and here is my playlist of six talks about the essentials. Work your way through the classic school day, as told in TEDTalks. No finals required.
1st period: Math
Marcus du Sautoy: Symmetry, reality’s riddle
Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy takes you inside the universe’s native language — symmetry. From beautiful upside-down columns to the mind-boggling number of symmetries in a Rubik’s Cube, he shares some of the brightest (and darkest) moments in the history of humanity’s fascination with symmetry.
2nd period: History
Aaron Huey: Native prisoners of war
In this poignant look at life on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Aaron Huey rewrites U.S. history as you thought you knew it. Setting the grim historical facts against the backdrop of his unflinching photography, he uncovers buried American truths, past and present. (Check out Huey’s latest project, an interactive collaboration with the residents of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.)
3rd period: Lunch
Jamie Oliver: Teach every child about food
Jamie Oliver has a TED Wish: to build a new generation of informed, healthy eaters. The time is now, he says, to drive fast foods out of our homes, schools and offices and to create a shared culture of meals that we can be proud to pass on to our children.
4th period: Science
Andrea Ghez: The search for a supermassive black hole
Using the world’s largest telescope, Andrea Ghez peers into the center of our galaxy. She shares her findings on some strange behavior, the challenges of seeing through the atmosphere, and what would happen if the Earth were shrunk to the size of a sugar cube.
5th period: Gym
Steve Mesler: How two decisions led me to Olympic gold
Olympic gold medalist Steve Mesler takes a moment to reflect on the personal decisions that ultimately led him to victory. In an ode to the powers of believing in yourself and trying again, he whisks you along on his uplifting downhill journey. (Last month, Steve picked his favorite TEDTalks of all time for the TED Blog.)
6th period: English
Billy Collins: Everyday moments, caught in time
And finally, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins ventures out of the ordinary to present a few of his poetic gems … animated. Here, he personifies his sweater sleeve, pays his thanks to Bugs Bunny, and admits he’s on a lifelong mission to spring poetry on unsuspecting victims.