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5 TEDTalks Revolutionizing Child Development

Did you know babies as young as a year-and-a-half can guess what other people are thinking? Or that a babies’ first smile doesn’t usually appear until 10-14 weeks of age?

Does this information interest you?

Keep reading. There’s more.

If you’re ready to revolutionize the way you think about child development, look no further than the four TEDTalks below, all of which are describing new ideas and shaking up the child development field.

Peter Benson – Sparks: How Youth Thrive

As the author of more than a dozen books on child and adolescent development and social change, including  Sparks: How Parents Can Help Ignite the Hidden Strengths of Teenagers, Dr. Peter Benson is considered a thought leader and authority on positive human development. 

How This TEDTalk Revolutionizes Child Development:

Dr. Peter Benson’s TEDTalk shares the idea that sparks – or what a child’s hope, meaning and a purpose are in life – will impact his or her future. He highlights several thought-provoking facts within his talk, such as:

  • Only one quarter of 80 million children is on a path to a successful future because most lack these "sparks".
  • Children are not vessels to be filled, but fire’s to be lit.
  • School success skyrockets when the “thriving formula” is active in a child’s life. The “thriving formula” is a spark, three peers who can motivate and encourage the child, and an opportunity to showcase that spark to help the child thrive.

Alison Gopnik – What Do Babies Think?

Professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley, Alison Gopnik, believes that we can learn a lot from the minds of babies and children. Her work is inspired by psychological, neuroscientific, and philosophical advancements in the field of child development.

How This TEDTalk Revolutionizes Child Development:

Gopnik’s TEDTalk is revolutionizing the child development thought on how and what babies think because of recent studies stating that babies can read minds – her talk perfectly correlates with this study. In addition, the points bulleted below showcase some of the biggest thoughts from her talk.

  • There is a relationship between how old a child is and how much information he/she retains and understands and it’s not the relationship you would think.
  • Babies and young children are like the research and development division of the human species – they’re exploring how everything works around them.
  • Children function like scientists. If you ask a child to play and to explain what they are doing during play time, they will show you what they are doing through a series of experiments.

Temple Grandin – The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

As an expert on animal behavior and an autism activist, Temple Grandin made huge progress and life-long changes through research on animal behaviors for anyone who owns and raises animals, as well as, successes in the field of autism and child behavior.

How This TEDTalk Revolutionizes Child Development:

The TEDTalk Grandin gave about the world needing all different types of minds is a concept that you may have heard before. One of her main points: those who have autism spectrum disorder, like Grandin, possess abilities that many “normal” brains do not.

  • Autism is a continuum of traits such as behavioral traits, social traits, and personality traits.
  • The autistic mind picks out details whereas the normal brain ignores the details.
  • Neurotypical brains may miss out on different abilities that the autistic brain possesses, such as, thinking in pictures as a way to solve problems.

Beau Lotto and Amy O’Toole – Science is for Everyone, Kids Included

Founder of Lottolab, neuroscientist and artist Beau Lotto is uncovering the old-fashioned, peer-reviewed way to research by showcasing the mysteries of the brain’s visual system.

As one of the youngest people (10 years-old) to ever publish a peer-reviewed science paper, Amy O’Toole (now 12 years-old) is paving the way for young people in the field of science with the Blackawton Bees Project. Before working with Beau Lotto on the i, scientist project, she had no interest in science, but since working with Lotto and her classmates, she intends to continue to study the human mind and body through high school and college.

How This TEDTalk Revolutionizes Child Development:

In the TEDTalk O’Toole and Lotto gave, they describe how they came up with the idea for the Blackawton Bees Project – specifically, how the idea came to fruition, the steps of the process in research, and how, ultimately, they published a peer-reviewed, child-written, research paper about the study of bee’s and human development. Some of their findings include:

  • Science is a way of being. We need to see science differently – not just as some boring subject.
  • Experiments are play; example, the Blackawton Bees Project was designed and engineered by a 10 year-old and her classmates. As a child and a collaborator of the project, O'Toole, along with her classmates observed the way bees develop and compared it to the development of human beings.
  • Science offers the possibility to step on uncertainty through the process of play.

Terrie Rose – From the Babies Point of View

Founder and executive director of Baby’s Space, Dr. Terrie Rose uses her own experiences as a mother and child psychologist to approach and develop ideas and research based on child development. You can also see her in our recap of EDTalks – Minneapolis.

How This TEDTalk Revolutionizes Child Development:

Dr. Rose’s TEDTalk dives into the world of babies’ brains and how they develop over time with the nurturing and love of others through their development. She also highlights the interesting side of baby and child development – that experiences are key to a baby and child’s development. For example:

  • Children two and under experience more changes in who takes care of them than any other age group, bouncing around from different family members, to child care centers, to care takers. This pattern is detrimental to their brain development.
  • The experiences babies have impact their brain architecture. Experiences that they learn through include play and exploration, and interactions and relationships around them.
  • Baby health includes social and emotional development. Things that affect baby health in a negative way can include toxic stress, child maltreatment or neglect, and trauma.

Want more information on child development and further TEDTalks resources? Be sure to take a look at these TEDTalks articles specifically on children and education:

Kendall Bird

Kendall is a Social Media Strategist at Collegis Education who is focused on bringing awareness and engagement to Rasmussen College's social media properties. She is passionate about helping others, the power of education and building strategies that put the needs of students first. 


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