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Learning at its Best

Before There Was TED, There Was…PBS

My respected colleague, Paul W. Bennett, recently posted a rather sharp, pointed entry about the value of the TED movement. In particular, Paul focused a much-needed critical lens on the love affair that many of us seem to be nurturing with the TED franchise. In a very real way, the TED brand has become a proxy for everything critical, innovative and 21st century. I don’t have the statistics to prove it but I would be willing to wager that more than one Monday morning keynote speaker is busy this evening scouring the TED archives for just the right clip that will either inspire or motivate the audience that they will be facing in just a few hours. I’ve done it. You’ve probably done it as well.

But as I stood in my kitchen this evening, doing the dishes, sweeping the floors and listening to the latest TED offerings, my mind wandered back to the 1970’s when, as a young teenager, I accidentally happened upon PBS—the Public Broadcast System. I think that I was likely looking for the sight of some forbidden flesh but, instead, I found the home of Arlo Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary and…Leo Buscaglia.

Leo Buscaglia was the very first inspirational speaker that I ever heard. Heck, I don’t even think that, back then, he would have been considered an inspirational speaker. My dad thought that he was a bit of a nutcase. My late brother, George, had the opportunity to hear him live, and the opportunity to “give him a hug”.

I’m thinking that PBS in the 1970’s would have been equivalent to the TED of the 2000’s.

I’m also thinking that there is a deep-seated human desire, if not need, to be moved and inspired. It’s what we crave from our speakers, from our churches and from our teachers. It’s not a new craving, but it is, I suspect, an insatiable one.

I encourage you to listen to both Leo Buscaglia  (check out the subsequent parts) and Ken Robinson. Are there similarities? Differences?

I’ll have some further comments later but, for now, I present you with a Leo vs. Ken smackdown!  Not really…I just wanted to add a sense of drama to your deliberations!

About Stephen Hurley

After working for over 30 years in Ontario's public education system, I continue to work passionately throughout Canada, still very committed to the idea of effective, powerful learning experiences for all participants. A musician, technology-watcher, father, husband, I find life in the world of education, even when the conversations get a little contentious. If I were to be doing anything else right now, it would be hosting my own syndicated radio program on--you guessed it--education. I blog in a few spots. My personal blog can be found at I can also be found hanging around and, most recently, I can be found on twitter as @stephen_hurley


One thought on “Before There Was TED, There Was…PBS

  1. Stephen, I enjoy your musings as you sweep the kitchen floor. I just listened to the poet Mark Nepo, in a podcast with Tami Simon in which he describes his belief that we are always, consciously or not, walking around looking for things for our hearts to “bump into” to open them. Give it a listen. His point similar to yours…

    Join you in great skepticism about TED talks, and their effect on real thinking.


    Posted by Kirsten | February 25, 2013, 9:15 am

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