TED Talks: Honors English

Students enrolled in Dr. Fuller’s English II Honors course engaged in TED Talks on February 27-30. The class chose to study popular culture and their task was to create a talk with visuals, present it to class, and then finalize the script based on feedback from their peers. Dr. Fuller explained, “Their talk to the class was treated as a work in progress. Once they receive written feedback from their peers and teacher, they will then revise their scripts to turn in as their culminating project. This project fits the AP Composition course by being a real-world experience rather than an academic exercise. They write for an audience, educate, and persuade. The emphasis is more on the writing and researching than it is on public speaking.”

From West Hartford, Connecticut, Ben Reimer gave a talk entitled “The Impact of Streaming Services on the Income of Artists,” where he outlined the methods of earning income as a popular recording artist. Describing the evolution of streaming services such as Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora, Ben examined how the platforms for earning revenue as a musician have changed dramatically while selling merchandise and concert tickets have survived as a major source of income. Concluding his talk Ben asserted, “So enjoy the current world we live in, where artists are freely expressing themselves and exposing their music to a number of streaming services for the general population to hear and enjoy.”

From Austin, Texas, Fiona Johnson gave her talk on the topic of activism and notable social movements. Citing the use of hashtags in social media, including #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, Fiona explained how people are connected by purpose. “Pop culture gives people a sense of belonging,” she noted. “It gives us something to believe in and defines public relationships. Like a cult, pop culture exploits the basic human nature of wanting to belong, presenting to us comfort and validation.”

Other topics included Caroline Greco’s talk on life and death in pop music where she claimed, “Artists’ sales actually increase when they die because pop culture is fueled by tragedy.” Additionally, in her presentation entitled “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” Karrah Hayes spoke on how pop culture reduces individuality by recycling trends such as fashion and music, continually repurposing a cycle of conformity.

Students participating in these TED Talks all responded with positive feedback about the project citing it was a unique and interesting method used in developing an essay. Hayes concluded, “This was a helpful exercise because we all need to learn how to break down the boundaries of society, and this also gave us an opportunity to practice our public speaking skills while engaging with an audience.”