5 Great TED Talks for School Psychologists

| Staff Writers

Psychology TED Talks

  • Scott Geller
  • Sam Berns
  • Till H. Gross
  • Eddie Zhong
  • Robert Hoge

Ted Talks, famous for challenging who listeners believe they are and what they do, have some powerful things to say about school psychology. The lectures are given by an assortment of individuals, and some of them have no academic credentials at all. Some of them are just children. That is why these talks are so powerful. They open windows to concepts that people may have never considered. Here are five great Ted Talks about working with children in school counseling.

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1) Scott Geller: “The Psychology of Self-Motivation”

Author and Virginia Tech professor discusses ways to become motivated to affect change in his Ted Talk. He introduces the concept of boundaries, including rules, restrictions, supervisors and teachers and talks about ways of going beyond boundaries. His theme is how to inspire people and ourselves to be motivated to accomplish great things by answering three questions: a) Can you do it? b) Will it work? And c) Is it worth it?

2) Sam Berns: “My Philosophy for a Happy Life”

Sam Berns was an American teenager who suffered from progeria, the aging disease. He passed way in 2014. Despite severe limitations, Sam was able to accomplish many of his dreams. At seventeen, and confined to a wheelchair, he addressed the Ted-Talk audience telling his life story and proclaiming the rewards of living. He had wanted to march in his school band playing the snare drums, but the apparatus weighed nearly as much as he did. His parents helped him design and build a lightweight harness and he played the drums as he performed with the marching band. He says he responded to a question about the one thing he wanted people to know about him by saying, “I have a very happy life.” One of the tenets of his philosophy is not to focus on what you can’t do, but on everything you can do. He also advises listeners to surround themselves with high-quality people who will support and encourage them. The major theme of his talk is changing what you can and adapting to what you can’t.

See: The Top 50 Ph.D. Programs in Clinical Psychology

3) Till H. Gross: “Four Steps to Design Your Own Education”

Gross is a 22-year-old man who left traditional education behind and became a world-renown lecturer. He doesn’t advocate quitting school but talks about how individuals develop areas of excellence. He lists four steps to take in the process. First, he urges people to develop skills. That means putting in effort and study. Second, he says people should learn from the best. In other words, people should seek out the best at what they want to accomplish and then find ways to get close to those people to be mentored by them. Third, Gross says learning is more important than making money, especially at the beginning of a career. The fourth element of his theory is that people need to “hustle,” and passion will follow.

4) Eddy Zhong: “How Schools Make Kids Less Intelligent”

Zhong believes that formal education puts everyone in a mold and discourages creativity. He talks about his life and his struggles as a “different” child. He didn’t fit in with the super-intelligent kids or with the athletes. At one point, when he was fourteen, he was sent with a team to a business plan competition. Students formed teams and worked for several months on business ideas. Zhong says his team was different because instead of doing a report they went to the local hardware store, bought materials and built a prototype of their business product. They won the contest. He believes that formal education is important to give people the foundations to exercise their creativity, but stresses that there are many different kinds of intelligence and that schools need to support and nurture all of them.

5) Robert Hoge: “Own your Face”

Hoge was born with extreme facial deformities. Despite many surgeries, he remains disfigured. His Ted Talk centers upon people accepting who they are and making decisions for themselves. He points out, through his life story, that beauty can be many things. He encourages people to accept who they are, choose who they want to become in light of that, and then create their own goals.

School psychologists are called to work with problematic individuals. Either the person is a problem to society or fitting into society poses a problem for the individual. These TED Talks encourage the practitioner to find new definitions for “problem,” and to recognize unique solutions to life situations. Maybe these TED Talks, and others like them, can spur new dialog about the role of school psychology.

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