Kids Can't Be Taught, But They Love to Learn
The spotlight was bright, but not so bright that I couldn't see the faces in the auditorium. It was quiet. My skirt swirled around my ankles as I stepped into the red carpet circle. The plush fuzz squished under my snow boots.
Nick, one of the event's organizers, asked me to introduce myself. He followed with a question, which I was told functioned as a sound check for my voice.
“What was one of the most challenging things about preparing your talk?”
I looked out at the audience. Were there a hundred people? Two hundred? Not all the seats were full. I smiled and said, “Well, honestly? One of the hardest things was picking out my outfit for today.”
The audience laughed. Score.
Take a deep breath and...
This was my first TEDx talk. It was January 2020 and I had to shovel a foot of snow off my driveway before leaving my house that morning. I'd spent the past two weeks mumbling under my breath while my kids played, memorizing line after line.
I'd also spent literal hours trying on clothes (while my three-year-old jumped on the bed trying on my scarves), attempting to determine what combination of colors and styles best balanced me as "professional, MIT grad" and me as "weird homeschooler."
It was the first time I'd been on a proper stage in quite some time. (Academic presentations barely count, though I've given a fair number in the past few years... Most are in conference rooms with audiences of 10–40, and it's just fine to read off my detailed notes. Not really stage fright material.) I found myself remembering things about posture, gaze, and gesture that I'd learned doing theater as a kid. I wondered if I should have invested in some makeup.
Nick exited the stage, not pursued by a bear.
I took a deep breath. Looked at the carpet. Looked up at the audience.
“I studied social robots in grad school at MIT...”
Kids can't be taught, but they love to learn
Here's the video:
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