When you’ve made it through every parenting and kid-friendly podcast in your feed but still want info pumped into your ear holes, how about some “ideas worth spreading?” These 10 TED Talks cover everything from raising happy kids to raising fearless kids to raising entrepreneurial kids to raising all of the above (a.k.a. Malala). You might not ever reach the TED stage, but you can wow the next dinner party or playgroup with your world-changing knowledge and nasally NPR voice. “This … is the Dad Radio Hour.”
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1. Deb Roy: The Birth Of A Word
To determine how incoherent babble becomes, “My dad rules,” Deb Roy Big Brother-ed his house and analyzed 90,000 hours of video and audio from his son’s first three years. He discovered a fascinating link between context and language learning, and presumably made major progress as director of the MIT Media Lab’s Cognitive Machines group. That’s where they design machines that learn to communicate in human-like ways (can you say, “Simpsons did it?”).
2. Jessica Shortall: The American Case for Paid Maternity Leave
The state of paid parental leave in the American workplace is pretty bleak, and Jessica Shortall argues the economy will be, too, unless new working mothers are guaranteed national paid leave. Shortall is the author of a “New Working Mother’s Survival Guide” called Work. Pump. Repeat., which sounds like a terrible way to start every day for everyone not named The Rock. Watch her talk, take a break from scouring this list for your next job, and thank your wife.
3. Bruce Feiler: The Council of Dads
The Council of Dads, in addition to being a great fantasy football team name, was a group of friends, which author and host Bruce Feiler assembled to stand in for him should the worst happen following his cancer diagnosis in 2008. Now cancer-free (and running his family like anagile software programmer), Feiler turned the Council’s wisdom into a tome of wisdom about family, life, and love, which grows when people drink plenty of milk. The more you know.
4. Gever Tulley: 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do
Gever Tulley started the Tinkering School, a maker camp for kids, and he cautions parents that attendees generally “come back bruised, scraped, and bloody.” He researched for the camp by “Borrow[ing] friends’ children,” so he’s exactly the guy you want advocating for your kids to play with fire, own a pocket knife, throw a spear, deconstruct appliances, break the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and (bonus!) drive your car.
5. Jennifer Senior: For Parents, Happiness Is a Very High Bar
Jennifer Senior’s New York Times bestseller, All Joy And No Fun: The Paradox Of Modern Parenting, and her TED talk distill why raising happy kids is such a crisis for modern parents. Hint: it’s not their fault, and happiness is the wrong goal. Also relevant: If jars of pureed macaroni and beef can build a bestselling TED speaker, your kid probably doesn’t need to go gluten-free.
6. Cameron Herold: Let's Raise Kids to Be Entrepreneurs
Cameron Herold wants kids to grow up to be entrepreneurs, and not just so his company, BackPocket COO, can eventually coach and mentor them. Herold says it’s the job of parents and schools to nurture traits like tenacity and leadership, rather than try and tutor kids into excelling at things they suck at, like French, or whatever language you’re still bitter about having to study.
7. Ziauddin Yousafzai: My Daughter, Malala
How do you raise the next Malala? Being an all-world father helps. In his talk, Ziauddin Yousafzai discusses his fight to give all children in the developing world — girls and boys — equal opportunities for education. That includes taking on the Taliban, which you don’t have to do to raise a world-changing child, but it certainly moves you a couple notches up the list.
8. Julia Sweeney: It's Time for "The Talk"
When you just have to laugh at the comedy of errors that is parenting, there’s comedian Julia Sweeny’s hilarious retelling of how she broke down the birds and the bees to her daughter. When she starts describing the female reproductive anatomy as “A little bit like having a waste treatment plant right next to an amusement park … Bad zoning,” you’ll realize you’re doing better than you’d thought.
9. Adora Svitak: What Adults Can Learn From Kids
If you don’t believe parents teach and inspire their child by thinking like one, take it from an author, speaker, and literacy advocate who is one. Adora Svitak is only 12, but she’s already written an Amazon-bestselling writing reference book for kids that you, a friend, or your kid’s English teacher has on their shelf. On the TED stage, she schools you in acting childish.
10. Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?
You’ve either watched and shared this talk under the header, “Everyone should watch this,” or seen said header since 2006 and waited until now to abide. Sir Ken Robinson has led the British government’s advisory committee on creative and cultural education, written New York Times bestsellers translated into 21 languages, and is the patron saint for every restless-legged kid who wants to be more than a good worker. That includes you, if you promise to watch.
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