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Ed. Magazine

Ideas Worth Teaching

Educational Challenges of the 21st Century

They each had five minutes. Five minutes on the stage in Askwith Hall to talk about an idea related to education. As they talked, the 16 student speakers and three professors paced, gestured, and, at times, became passionate about their ideas. There were cheers and sometimes laugher. But they weren't in class. They were at the first-ever EdTalks, an event created by the school's Student Government Association (SGA) that mirrored the popular TED Talks.

For two days, students and faculty members (Associate Professors Jal Mehta and Tina Grotzer, Ed.M.'85, Ed.D.'93, and Lecturer Terry Tivnan, M.A.T.'70, Ed.D.'80) tackled topics ranging from technology to respecting the teaching profession to the "crucial period" in learning. The overarching question they were asked to address, said SGA president Paul Moya, Ed.M.'13, was a simple one: What really matters in the field of education?

Video"Maybe it's not a simple question at all. It's convoluted and challenging," Moya said on the first night, "but we wanted to get to the heart of it because real change in education requires a real commitment to collaboration, it requires a commitment to finding solutions to real reforms, real outcomes, and real thought leaders. Leaders coming together from different backgrounds, different perspectives, different programs, and different schools of thought. We believe those leaders are here at HGSE. More importantly, many of them are here tonight."

Midhat Aqeel, Ed.M.'13, a student government senator, says the talks came about when members of the SGA wanted to find ways for students from different programs to come together. Moya, she says, suggested creating something like the TED Talks but focused just on education. In the end, Aqeel says she thinks the event did what it set out to — it helped students see the connections between them.

"EdTalks could have gone in a completely different direction and highlighted only the distinctions among the 13 programs," she says. "Students within a program can have completely dissimilar ideas on what truly represents their cohort. However, the structure of the event — the inclusion of professors, for example — was instrumental in conveying the similarities in the approaches cohorts take when considering issues in the education sector."

The hope is that this event will continue each year and become a staple for the school.

"Too often, at HGSE, we look outside our own school to learn new lessons and gather different perspectives," Moya says. "The reality is that there are so many incredible things happening within HGSE, and we hope that future events like EdTalks help to unite our cohorts and bring people together to tackle our biggest challenges."

Ed. Magazine

The magazine of the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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