Another Burlington First! TEDxYouth@BHS

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared on the blog of Nikhil Thakkar

Another Burlington first is probably an understatement!

Screenshot 2014-12-18 at 1.36.03 PM

BHS Senior Nikhil Thakkar and TEDXYouth@BHS organizer

As the midterms roll around for Burlington students, Mrs. Scheffer’s Help Desk has broken through the confines of standardized testing and used an Individual Learning Endeavor platform to help students create an applicable and purposeful passion project that allows them to delve deeper into one of their interests.

I use passions sparingly, as the word proves imbued with knowledge of dedication and persistence. The Individual Learning Endeavor is Help Desk specific; although Burlington encourages students to sprinkle or polish their projects with technology, the experience is far from limited and proves a conduit for all types of projects, technological or not. I reserve the word experience, but there is no other word that better describes the project. The ILE isn’t a test. The ILE isn’t predictable. The ILE is the real world.

It stimulates senses, feels through real world applications and understands the meaning of being a contributing member to society. It’s not necessarily about pursuing something you’re passionate about. In fact, passion holds its etymology as relatively analogous to dedication and prideful suffering. Thus, the ILE captures its essence in the idea that students devote 20% of their Help Desk time to pursue a project through which they’d be willing to suffer. Understandably, this doesn’t sound appealing to most, especially to the average high school students whose only goal proves to complete their homework without really understanding what their homework even means. Nonetheless, for students who are freethinkers, for students to whom Help Desk attracts and allures, those who wish to transcend all barriers of today’s 21st educational paradigm is accused to have constructed, the ILE is a refreshing opportunity to drive their own learning, a vehicle for a new type of inquiry to not necessarily submit to curriculums, but create their own.

As an avid public speaker and proponent for entrepreneurial thought, I have chosen to curate Burlington’s first TEDX event. I’m elated to announce that just last week TED accepted our application and has given us rights to begin curating the event —selecting speakers, inviting honorary guests, etc. Tentatively scheduled for May 8th 2015, TEDxYOUTH@BHS (it’s official name) will surely be an intensive yet fulfilling ride. Although I don’t want to reveal all details just yet, the process required that I completed involved an incredibly comprehensive application. Just as Burlington is an incredible precedent for other secondary schools that wish to implement creative and freethinking pedagogical systems, so too does my TEDx application represent these ideas.

Why do you want to curate a TEDx event?
Well, I’d like to share Burlington’s free spirit through its incredible students and administrators.
How do you plan to advertise?
Burlington is exceptionally open-minded and profoundly tight-knit, which makes it safe to assume our seats will be filled before the first flyers and emails even leave the building. Having given an upward of fifteen TEDx talks myself (across Spain), TED’s desire to share and spread innovation is seen in my own reflection. TED is a family. Perhaps this idea shines through TED’s myriad of resources including (but definitely not limited to) wiki pages, forums, and TED representatives who help curators along the way. I look forward to speaking with other educators and students who have curated events as far as Hawaii, which only speaks to TED’s reach. TED engenders a type of controversy we as students and parents seem to have fallen in love with. As I continue sifting through the talent, the innovation, and the accomplishment found within each student and the story they have to tell, I find the greatest joy in sharing with the community that’s built me to who I am today the newest and most relevant surrounding TEDxYOUTH@BHS.

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