Wednesday, September 21, 2011

an education: part I.

in case you missed the memo: i am a fresh college grad.  among other things, this means this is the first autumn in eighteen years i have not returned to school (including one year of preschool and one year of kindergarten), and i should confess this is more than slightly unsettling to me.  i am apparently not a normal grad who rejoices at her freedom from papers and tests.

however, this post is not intended to bemoan the identity crisis involved with leaving school behind after such a terrific ride in one's academic career.  instead, i wanted to share a few of the intentional ways i have been attempting to educate myself outside of the classroom.  as some of you dear readers may have also recently graduated, i hope this can perhaps be a seed of inspiration for you--may we always be passionate students of life.  as a side note, i would like to see more Christians informed about world events.  let's dispel the myth that we live in a bubble.

i was originally going to make this post in list form, but i got far too excited about my first bullet point and wrote a long enough blurb that it became its own blog post.  i'd love to share some of the other ways i'm trying to educate my mind, but i really want to do this first option justice.  hopefully there will actually be parts II, III, etc., posted in the near future.

without further ado:

TED talks.  recommended to me by my dear friend marissa, these podcasts have been a lifesaver for me at work lately (only while doing mindless work, i promise).  offered in both audio and video form--and some really should be viewed in video form to make sense--these presentations are recorded live at the annual TED conference, and feature individuals from a variety of fields talking about an issue or cause they find worthwhile or captivating.  the mission statement of the TED organization is to provide a space for people to share "ideas worth spreading," and the concepts i've discovered thus far are both compelling and diverse.

i particularly appreciated this excerpt from TED's mission statement:   

We seek to discover people whose voices really need to be heard, but who are currently largely ignored by the media. By putting them in front of an influential audience, capturing their talks on film and releasing them to the world online, we can offer a satisfying alternative to the endless media diet of celebrity gossip.
the best part is each talk is somewhere between five and twenty minutes long, so tuning in for a talk doesn't require an entire evening.  you might even want to listen to more than one at a time.  it is the perfect podcast to take on a walk, a run, or a commute!  i sound like a commercial.  but i love these and i want you to try them, too.

some personal favorites you might want to check out:

rory stewart on the need for humility in the afghanistan war (20 minutes)
sam richards on an experiment with empathy (18 minutes)
thomas heatherwick on progressive architecture (17 minutes)

and these are just the talks that piqued my interest!  there is such a wide variety of topics that you will be able to find something interesting and/or challenging.  music, history, science, architecture, sociology--the options are incredibly diverse.  i'd also like to note that not all of the talks are quite as heavy or political as the talks i linked above; for example, i listened to a TED talk earlier today about the benefits of smiling.

with that, it is past my bedtime.  good night, my friends!  i hope you are finding ways to continue learning outside of a formal education, and i'd love to hear what you're learning and where you are finding this wellspring of knowledge.


  1. Downloading it right now. As we speak. As I write.

    And definitely looking forward to it the next time I landscape.

  2. listen to Elizabeth Gilbert on Creativity... personally I think she can be kind of a yahoo, but it was good.

    your support of "clove + cloth" made my day. please, stalk me forever.

  3. If you like TED talks, you should also check out Radio Lab! Its a radio podcast, and I believe the episodes aren't too long. Their material is absolutely fascinating, though. :)