“Good morning!” I yelled enthusiastically. That was the first two words I uttered as the opening speaker for the TEDxTitech event on Dec. 21. The audience responded back cheerfully.
Despite rapid advances in education such as video lectures, ebooks and smartphone apps, the classroom and the way we interact with teachers has not changed for more than a century.
With technology, everyone has the freedom to discover and tap into anyone else’s wisdom, and at the same time provide their own unique knowledge to others.
That was the point of my speech.
In September, I received a formal invitation as speaker and ever since I felt excited but also intimidated.
After all, I’ve watched more than a hundred inspiring TED speeches and this was big shoes to fill.
Education advocate Ken Robinson was my favorite and my role model for the TEDx talk.
It was pressure to squeeze all my thoughts into a concise 18 minutes, which was the time allotted.
Although I had my start-up and a heavy workload to run during the day, I practiced my speech over and over in the evenings — using a stopwatch — the week running up to the event.
It took three to four weeks before that to crystallize my talking points.
I met the most interesting students at the event.
One was Kareman Yassin, co-founder of educational non-profit YouTeach in Egypt. Yassin is passionate about poverty and social issues and studies economics in Tokyo. She’s volunteered organizing two TEDx events in Egypt, and this one was her third.
Another interesting attendee was Soichiro Yoshimura. He’s only 19. Yoshimura is an organizer for another TEDx group to motivate talented young people in Tokyo to make a difference and also a leader for Startup Weekend Japan.
During lunch break, high school students approached and peppered me with questions, asking me to compare educational systems in Malaysia, Singapore, Canada and Japan, all countries I’ve lived in.
It was inspiring and refreshing to see youth genuinely inquisitive and full of intelligent questions.
Chiew Chung is an AAJA-Asia member in Tokyo and the CEO of ClassDo.
Details of Chiew’s TEDxTitech talk available on request: chiew.chung[at] classdo.com or @ChiewChung