TED Talk Teaching: Part II

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TED Talks are great teaching tools.  Each is visual, engaging, focused, and contemporary.  I think they make excellent supplements to the readings in Emerging, particularly because many of the text’s authors have been TED speakers.  And the interactive transcript is a bonus feature, letting students work with the text of each talk.

In this series of posts I want to highlight some particularly useful TED Talks and suggest some of the ways to use them in the classroom.

The Talk: Daniel Gilbert: The Surprising Science of Happiness

Why It’s Great: Daniel Gilbert’s “Reporting Live From Tomorrow” is a particularly agile essay since its ideas about our future happiness can beconnecTED to any number of essays in Emerging.  Gilbert has a few TED Talks (see also this one and this one) but this particular talk intersects most usefully with “Reporting Live from Tomorrow.”  In it Gilbert elaborates on his work with happiness, showing how “synthetic happiness,” in which we end up happy even though we don’t get what we want, is just as real as “natural happiness.”  The talk is useful for expanding students’ understanding of what it takes to make us happy.

Using It: Gilbert concludes by saying that “our longings and our worries are both to some degree overblown, because we have within us the capacity to manufacture the very commodity we are constantly chasing when we choose experience.”  Synthesize this conclusion with his work on surrogates. What role do surrogates play in synthetic happiness?

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.