"Education is not the memorization of facts, but instead teaching the mind to think"
~ Albert Einstein
One of my life-long ambitions is to not only go to TED... but to one day, be invited to actually speak there.
TED - Technology, Entertainment, Design - is an annual global conference (now an entire set of conferences) founded in 1984.
The primary purpose of TED is to bring together a group of world-renown speakers to introduce original ideas and unique concepts to their live audience, and now due to the magic of the internet and on-demand broadcasting; the world.
TED’s mission statement is to present "Ideas Worth Spreading".
Speakers at TED are given a maximum of 18 minutes to share their perspective on a particular topic of research or thought. The talks are generally entertaining with the aid of multi-media and demonstrations.
The best presentations however, are made through the use of story-telling and personal experiences.
Past presenters have included luminaries such as Bill Clinton, Malcom Gladwell, Bill Gates, Bono, Jeff Bezos, Al Gore, James Cameron, Seth Godin, Billy Graham, and Richard Branson as well as thousands of other, perhaps slightly less famous but equally as important scientists, artists, philanthropists and deep thinkers.
I have never actually attended a TED conference, although there are now many smaller conferences held around the country known as TEDx conferences (but actually going to a TED conference is on my short list of goals before the end of 2016).
The interesting thing is that although I’ve never been to TED, I have probably seen enough TED presentations to fill the time of twenty TED conferences. There are approximately 1,900 taped TED presentations available for viewing on TED.com at no cost. As of 2012, there have been over 1 billion views of TED talks by people around the world.
While I still have the dream of being a TED presenter one day, I have since found a new passion.
The one downside to TED is that presenters talk to their audience. It’s strictly a one-way street... and in fact... a TED talk doesn’t really need to be taped in front of a live audience at all. It could just as easily be recorded on a sound-stage in someone’s basement.
After a speaker’s 18 minutes are completed, they leave, stage right and another speaker enters, stage left to give another performance. At no time during the conference does a presenter actually interact with their audience... or should I say... does the audience interact with the presenter.
I understand the reasoning behind this format... but just because I understand it... it doesn’t mean that I like it.
Great ideas aren’t passive... they are interactive. They are formulated, discussed, massaged, and debated.
Each year I am fortunate to attend a 5-day conference in Boston called the "Gathering of Titans" (GOT). It is an outcropping from an entrepreneurial program I studied while at MIT in the late 1990’s.
Each April, 80 entrepreneurs gather to listen and interact with many of the exact same lecturers presenting at TED. However, instead of a simple 18-minute highly rehearsed speech, we have the privilege to listen, ask questions, and break-bread with some of the greatest thinkers and doers on the planet for sometimes more than 2-hours at a time. The sessions are fully interactive and never rehearsed.
I use the word "privilege" because that is exactly what it is...
Due to the high cost of bringing in top-notch presenters, attending the conference has a steep cost associated with it... but I gladly pay it... because I place a high value on this type of education and take away a great learning experience. I concede that the conference is elitist and offer no rationalization to the contrary.
Now contrast GOT with another program that I have recently become associated with...
The program is called Adventures of the Mind, and is the brain-child of Victoria Gray, a Washington, DC based attorney.
Adventures of the Mind is a bi-annual, week-long summer-camp for high school aged children (15-18 years old) who demonstrate great intellectual promise and an inquisitive nature.
These young-adults come from all over the country to meet and interact with their intellectual peers often creating life-long bonds with the peers and mentors.
More often than not, the kids come from at-risk segments of the population and/or from the small towns spread across America where advanced educational opportunities are few and far between.
There are lots of summer camps available to kids... so what makes Adventures of the Mind so special?
Well... first there are the "camp counselors"...
Adventures of the Mind is not staffed with your typical camp counselors but rather is comprised of an all-star instructional staff who are often asked to speak at conferences like TED and GOT.
It’s not an 18-minute speech... it’s not a 2-hour Q&A session...
These dedicated individuals act as mentors, often spending the entire week providing hands-on learning experiences side-by-side with the kids.
They share inspiring stories of their humble beginnings, the overcoming of great obstacles placed in their path, and their unrelenting passion for their craft.
The mentors have included scores of Nobel Laureates and Poet Laureates. Best-selling authors like Amy Tan and James Ellroy, high-tech entrepreneurs like Google founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page and Kickstarter founder Perry Chan.
World famous and award-winning artists, rocket scientists, photographers, physicist, doctors, master chefs, fashion designers, NASA astronauts, Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, engineers, archaeologists, chess champions, professors, paleontologists, and computer scientists all have devoted a significant portion of their precious time to help mentor students at Adventures of the Mind.
Adventure of the Mind is often referred to as a mentoring summit due to the extremely high ratio of mentors to students.
Additionally, unlike my GOT conference, there is no such thing as elitism at Adventures of the Mind, the cost of tuition is determined strictly based on the ability of the family to cover the $1,999 cost. Over one-half of all the students attending Adventures of the Mind are on full-scholarship and many others on partial scholarships.
The idea is to allow our brightest and our best minds to meet together no matter where they come from or what the families can afford.
In August of 2015, Adventures of the Mind will convene on the campus of Rosemont College near Philadelphia bringing 200 talented young people together with scores of adult achievers to begin a week of exploration and inspiration.
Applications are currently being accepted to attend. There is no application fee.
If you have an exceptional child, grandchild, niece, or nephew... or perhaps you might know of a teenager who might benefit from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I highly encourage you to ask them to apply.
In addition, I’m imploring you to forward this week’s blog to someone you might know who can take advantage of this fantastic program or perhaps just re-post it to your favorite social media site.
To apply for Adventures of the Mind - Click HERE... of go the their website.
As many of my regular readers know, I am a huge proponent of continuous learning, mentorship, and giving back to the community in which we all belong.
Join me in saluting Victoria Gray for her tireless and herculean efforts in organizing, staffing, marketing, fund-raising, and operating Adventures of the Mind... for kids just like yours and mine...
Thank you for your support of OptiFuse where we are pleased to support the education and inspiration of the next generation...
Jim Kalb President
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter - @OptiFuse
Website - www.optifuse.com
Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com