50 Awesome & Inspiring TED Talks for Homeschoolers

TED Talks open up the world to hundreds of new ideas and insights, and their cache of free lectures makes for an excellent educational resource for homeschooling parents. No matter the subject — and there are plenty not listed here — there probably exists a corresponding video suitable for supplementing a lesson. Most of the lectures and performances TED features are general enough for high school students to comprehend and appreciate, though more astute junior high kids might as well. Give these and other offerings a chance in the homeschooling classroom. They will likely prove extremely valuable when introducing students to advanced concepts without the confusing professional jargon.

Arts and Culture

  1. Amy Tan on Creativity: The Joy Luck Club author reflects upon her own personal creative process in addition to any biological, social, filial and physiological factors that may contribute to the universal desire to make and contribute something to the world.
  2. Alwar Balasubramaniam: Art of substance and absence: Take a peek at some incredible installations and sculptures that challenge viewers’ perceptions on some very basic concepts.
  3. Benjamin Zander on music and passion: Conductor Benjamin Zander experiments on his audience (in spite of knowing the outcome) and illustrates how passion makes all the difference when it comes to interpreting classical music.
  4. David Byrne: How architecture helped music evolve: Space restrictions challenge astute musicians to tailor their songs to specifically suit particular venues. Without them, music never would have evolved into such a rich, eclectic performing art.
  5. Jonathan Harris collects stories: Creative people seeking inspiration should open themselves up to the stories and perceptions of others in order to gain a broader perspective on the world and its peoples.
  6. Golan Levin makes art that looks back at you: Marvel at how technological and psychological concepts transform both art and engineering alike, blurring the lines between creativity and science even further.
  7. Thelma Golden: How art gives shape to cultural change: As the curator of Harlem’s Studio Museum, Thelma Golden keeps her fingers on the pulse of the art world and tracking what sorts of change they can exercise on audiences.
  8. The LXD: In the Internet age, dance evolves: This stellar performance by Legion of Extraordinary Dancers and lecture by filmmaker Jon M. Chu peer into how the internet and related technologies have revolutionized the performing arts.
  9. Phil Borges on endangered cultures: Through photography and interviews, Phil Borges travels the globe in search of isolated and marginalized peoples whose traditions stand threatened. He hopes his efforts mean more will take the initiative to preserve them so others can appreciate their perspectives.
  10. Scott McCloud on comics: Comics blend the literary and the visual arts together into one unique medium, and acclaimed creator Scott McCloud makes a compelling argument for broader acceptance.


  1. Dan Cobley: What physics taught me about marketing: Although marketing and physics seem like entirely different practices, one Google director points out that they share much more than one would think.
  2. John Gerzema: The post-crisis consumer: Even down economies provide fertile ground for innovators, provided they understand the mindsets of their consumers.
  3. Gary Vaynerchuk: Do what you love (no excuses!): The key to launching a successful career or business is to stick with something inciting passion rather than just do whatever just for the money.
  4. Alan Siegel: Let’s simplify legal jargon!: Business and legal documents boggle general audiences, and branding expert Alan Siegel makes a compelling argument for streamlining the technical language.
  5. Clay Shirky on institutions vs. collaboration: A company’s structure can determine its eventual success or failure, and this video illustrates the virtues of looser collaborations.
  6. Itay Talgam: Lead like the great conductors Anyone hoping to serve in any leadership position can take a cue from the creativity, improvisation and passion that conductors bring to their musical performances.
  7. Joseph Pine on what consumers want: Understanding consumer and client demand is one of the keys to succeeding in business, so always make sure to practice listening and analytic skills.
  8. Jacqueline Novogratz on patient capitalism: Jacqueline Novogratz applies business principles to stimulate the economy in African nations, stressing listening and flexibility above all else.
  9. Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours: Looking towards humanity’s closest relatives opens up some intriguing insights on commonalities in logical and illogical decision making.
  10. Matt Ridley: When ideas have sex: Innovation springs up when fertile minds meet and merge and give birth to something entirely new that never could have happened solo.

The Sciences

  1. Aditi Shankardass: A second opinion on learning disorders: Homeschooling families with a learning disabled child will appreciate knowing the medical science behind diagnosing and treating them.
  2. Brian Skerry reveals ocean’s glory — and horror: The oceans and ice caps fascinate people of all ages, and photographer Brian Skerry shows what all goes on beneath the surface — especially when it comes to fishing.
  3. James Balog: Time-lapse proof of extreme ice loss: Art and science converge to illustrate climate change through time-lapsed photography of quickly melting glaciers.
  4. James Watson on how he discovered DNA: The discovery of DNA was one of the most major scientific advances ever, and TED allowed one of the responsible scientists a forum to talk about the fascinating story.
  5. Martin Seligman on positive psychology: Former APA president Martin Seligman believes that psychology needs to focus on teaching people to forge their own happiness in addition to treating their illnesses.
  6. Michael Specter: The danger of science denial: Because today’s scientific and technological climate, turning one’s back on either could have serious health or medical consequences.
  7. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe: The world-renowned physicist has 5 major questions about the life and times of the known universe, illustrating the science that leads to even more inquiries and fewer tangible answers.
  8. Brian Greene on string theory: Learn all the basics of one major (and controversial!) theory in physics, which involves 11 total dimensions.
  9. Margaret Wertheim on the beautiful math of coral: As she organized a crochet project replicating coral reefs, Margaret Wertheim developed an appreciation of the mathematics behind the ecosystems.
  10. Murray Gell-Mann on beauty and truth in physics: Basic, accepted physics principles in and of themselves contain some surprisingly aesthetic elements.


  1. Craig Venter unveils “synthetic life:” Craig Venter and his team found a way to create synthetic DNA, eventually using to build viable, self-replicating cells in 2010. This development comes with some amazing implications for medical science.
  2. Dennis Hong: My Seven Species of Robot: Enjoy some of the seriously cool, award-winning technologies on display while simultaneously learning all about Dennis Hong and his team’s design and building process.
  3. Kwabena Boahen on a computer that works like the brain: Scientists have spent decades striving to reproduce the operations of the wondrous human brain in a more streamlined fashion, and Kwabena thinks that silicone may hold the key.
  4. Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us: Nanotechnology sits at the core of this lecture, which projects it will eventually overtake the human brain.
  5. Andrew Ghez: The hunt for the supermassive black hole: Today’s advances in optics and telescopes make it much easier for astronomers and physicists to determine the locations (and potential locations!) for black holes.
  6. Anthony Atala on growing new organs: Anyone in need of an organ transplant can look towards Anthony Atala’s lab for hope, as they grow full, viable ones right there. However, they still need to perfect the technique.
  7. Eben Bayer: Are mushrooms the new plastic?: The humble fungus may very well pave the way to more sustainable packaging products that keep the environment healthy.
  8. George Dyson at the birth of the computer: Computing springs from a rich history stretching much, much further back than people realize — some scientists estimate the 17th Century!
  9. Johnny Lee demos Wii Remote hacks: Homeschooling families who love their Wii can appreciate the clever, money-saving whiteboard, 3-D viewer and touchscreen they can make with a few controller tweaks.
  10. Juan Enriquez wants to grow energy: In the quest to discover renewable, clean and cost-efficient sources of energy, dipping back into the well of decaying organic matter may prove useful after all.

World Issues

  1. Majora Carter’s tale of urban renewal: When it comes to sustainability, poorer neighborhoods suffer more than anyone else. Majora Carter’s amazing lecture makes a compelling argument to create green initiatives for people in all socioeconomic brackets.
  2. Kevin Bales: How to combat modern slavery: Underground (sometimes open) slavery pulls in billions of dollars annually, and few people unfortunately take the time to realize the horrific reality that millions must suffer daily.
  3. Bill Gates on mosquitos [sic.], malaria and education: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dedicates itself to wiping out as many deadly illnesses as possible and providing the impoverished with the educational opportunities they need to succeed.
  4. Emily Oster flips our thinking on AIDS in Africa: Roughly 25 million individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa suffer from AIDS, but some of what everyone tends to assume about the epidemic is shockingly wrong.
  5. Iqbal Quadir says mobiles fight poverty: In rural, poor Bangladesh, the introduction of cell phones encourages tighter communities, better communication and more economic opportunities than there ever was before.
  6. Misha Glenny investigates global crime networks: Organized crime is responsible for an estimated 15% of the world economy, and journalist Misha Glenny pulls from his investigative experience to discuss this serious issue.
  7. Dean Ornish on the world’s killer diet: Heart diseases and other cardiovascular conditions kill more people than anything else, and societies need to change their eating habits in order to maintain greater public health.
  8. Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West — the myths that mystify: Arguments over religion and tradition cause some needless divides between nations, and the key to global harmony is opening up to new ideas rather than condemning those who believe differently.
  9. Ethan Zuckerman: Listening to global voices: Monolingual individuals are missing out on news stories and corners of the internet, but asking around and using a translator tool proves a treasure trove of exciting new information.
  10. Jared Diamond on why societies collapse: Get a basic overview of the economic, social and political factors that cause a country to completely fall — and how to spot and fix them before something cataclysmic occurs.