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4 donuts for my experience at Tedx Paris Universités

23 Mag

In the last few days I  finally got a break after the intense period spent  preparing my Tedx Talk. The imposed “six-minutes-speech” rule forced me to take on a challenge: give  structure to a huge amount of data on the value of classical culture, which I’ve collected during the last two years. I know it was  time to reorganize coherently some ideas that were already in my mind but in a pretty undefined form. After the Tedx conference I had the same feeling: I was overwhelmed by new information and not really able to grasp my thoughts. Yet this morning I woke up with the need to write down how this experience has significantly changed me.

1) What surprised me and made me happy:

First of all, I was really surprised to have been selected. I want to thank Halim and his team: they were brave to bet on a subject such as classical philology, normally not well represented on the stage of TED’s conferences, and on someone like me who, from the word go, seems to represent radically different opinions  on the use and role of new medias. On the stage,  I somehow felt responsible as a representative not only of  my own thoughts, but as a spokesperson of Latin and Greek’s studies: this feeling of responsibility increased my fear of speaking for the first time in front of 400 hundreds people. I worked on this conference with all my strength and what has made me happy was the impression to be deeply connected with the public, as if they could sympathetically feel how hard I believe in what I was saying. Thanks to everyone who listened to me during these six minutes: your attention was the best reward for my work.

2) What I liked the most and got me thinking: Science and religion by Florian Douam

I loved the speech by Florian Douam on science and religion. For my PHD I’m studying ancient roman religion (in particular the 6th book of the Aeneid of Virgil) and I know how difficult it is to deal with such a subject. I found his talk powerful and well constructed around pertinent examples. His message was clear, without arrogance and therefore  respectful of diversity: we can’t play the game of religion with the rules of science and vice versa because we’re in two different and not comparable domains. What has made me thinking was his capacity to express a good concept through elegant words, gently escaping the danger of  annoying rhetoric of  change (words such as “passion”, “hacker”, “share”, “mates” were in my opinion overused during the  whole day).

3) What I didn’t like and got me thinking even harder: Unishared by Clement Delangue.

I didn’t like the presentation of Unisharedby Clement Delangue and I personally explained to him my initial doubts during one of the coffee breaks.  When I don’t like something I always try to understand why. I’ve nothing against the concept itself: taking notes in a collaborative way can be eventually useful and funny (however I don’t think revolutionary). Why  did the presentation of Clement therefore bother me so deeply? If the content is not the problem, I said to myself, the reason must lie in the form. I read a lot of articles, watched videos about technology and education (thanks to mikiane for this interesting article) and I came up with the following conclusion. Clement started with the example of the Uncollege movement, born in America, which proposes a program of “self-education” opposed to the college education, unavoidable for the majority of the American population. Peter Thiel, CEO of Paypal, who instituted some scholarships to encourage twenty young students to skip college and realize their start-up idea, considered university to be a bubble, something generally overvalued: it costs too much and doesn’t provide the skills to become an entrepreneur. Since Clement started with this example and continued using Thiel’s bubble metaphor, I got the feeling that he wanted to underline the potential of Unishared as an online instrument of “self-education”. Here in Europe we have a different educational system and, in my point of view, self-education  not  opposed to university’s education: we can do both without difficulty. I believe in technology as a way to democratize the contents of education, especially for those who have no real possibility to attend university. I don’t believe in technology as the way of creating a new bubble: an independent system of “self-education” where we try to learn in new loneliness the skills which we require to realize a specific project. I hope that my critics can help Clement and his team to replace their project in a different context of values.

4) What I want to study and made me enthusiastic:

a) I want to study the for me completely new rhetorical discourse linked to the startup world: a mix of coolness, youth, passion, virality, net,metaphorically hacking and dynamism.

b)I want to better understand  the possible interaction between technology and education. I want to spread the idea that a revolution of education doesn’t have to coincide with a massive technologisation of school, but, instead, with the conscious research of a program of study well balanced between technical skills, humanities and liberal arts. Thanks to this TEDx conference, and what I  experienced there, what I liked and disliked, I have been able to  open my mind to a new range of interesting topics.

Keep thinking critically, constanter et non trepide!

Giovanna

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