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The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School

The Parker Weekly

Gibson’s First TED Talk

Stacey Gibson hosts a TED Talk about how The Field of Education Needs to be Re-Humanized
Stacey+Gibson+and+her+TEDEd+cohort.+Photo+courtesy+of+Ted.com.
Stacey Gibson and her TEDEd cohort. Photo courtesy of Ted.com.

Upper School English Teacher, Stacey Gibson took the TED stage, captivating her audience with stories and ideas on how the field of education needs to be re-humazied. 

TED Talks are influential presentations that cover a variety of topics. From science and technology to personal growth and societal issues, these talks are always delivered in a clear, concise, and engaging manner by leaders from various fields. 

Last July, Gibson received an unexpected call from TED.  “I didn’t go looking for it,” Gibson said. “I did it because I didn’t want to. I’m at the stage in my life when that’s what I have to do.”

Shortly after speaking with TED officials, Gibson accepted the opportunity to speak on the TED stage. The process is a long and time consuming one, and with 10 months of educating others on her topic, learning what to do, and socializing ahead, it began immediately. 

“I had a meeting four to six times a month, a ton of drafts, a coach, and classes,” Gibson said. “I had to watch many TED Talks, and if you observe, almost every TED talk follows a pattern. I needed to learn this pattern.”

TED speakers are expected to follow a specific pattern in their talks. There are one or two different formats, and following it will allow the speaker to advance their ideas without worrying about flow. First, each talk is under 18 minutes because an audience is good at focusing on one concept at a time in smaller chunks. The next goal is to create an outline and script after developing an idea. 

Gibson’s talk went through fact checkers and lawyers. 

“I used the term racism in the context of the 18th century and they said, ‘you can’t do that’ because the term didn’t exist in the 18th century.” There is also the matter of rehearsing the talk. In Gibson’s case, she was able to practice with other speakers who were going through the same process. 

“I made some phenomenal new friends because it was a cohort of us,” Gibson said. “These are brilliant scholars and people. We helped each other, rehearsed together, and more.” 

Along with gathering help from others, Gibson also reached within herself to find the courage to share her story and give herself advice.

“Part of my process was respecting the process long enough and holding it close. A lot of people have all these ambitions and it’s important to respect the ideas we have within us. We are stewarding ideas, and oftentimes, we are stewarding complicated truths,” Gibson said. 

She was also fortunate enough to be around a supportive group of people within the Parker community who provided remarkable advice and luck.

“There are many people to thank.” Gibson said. “Flo Walker-Harris, Leslie Holland Pryor, Ed Garza, Cory Zeller, and the entire English department, along with Dan Frank. They were super helpful, lots of support was shared.” 

Similarly to having a supporting group of friends and co-workers, Gibson also had her students by her side. “My students, I believe, shaded me a little for it. However, they don’t know that they have influenced me,” Gibson said. “We’re at the edge of each other’s hearts. And some of those edges can be rough. The advice I give to my students, I had to take myself the entire time.” 

For many people, public speaking is a scary thing, even thinking about it can be a ball of stress. Gibson shared that much of her anxiety went away as she got further into the experience.

“Because I stayed with the process, that knot of worry, doubt, and fear I had, kept getting untangled,” Gibson said.

After rehearsing in Chicago and calming nerves, Gibson flew to the New York City stage and performed her long awaited TED Talk. 

“The talk focuses on the courage to slow down when the whole world is speeding up,” Gibson shared. “I often talk about how one of my big concerns with young people is that they are all moving at a quick speed. And the larger society is doing it as well– moving at the speed of the update.”

Gibson continued to share her thoughts on moving quickly in the current state of our world. The issue is that there haven’t been big adjustments to how the world functions. 

“With COVID, the alarm bells were ringing and we saw that people don’t all have the right coping mechanisms,” Gibson said. “Along with trying to help them, we as a society also have to shift, and we haven’t. The same goes for the current mental health problem in the United States with younger age groups. So many children are taking their lives, and society hasn’t done enough — or shifted enough to help.” 

“The environment, the processes, the dumb competition needs to stop. We’ve outgrown all this mess and we’re all hungry for something more.” Gibson said. 

Like the content being important, another aspect of the experience is not being able to memorize what you’re going to say on stage. There is no teleprompter, so if you memorize the talk and you get stuck, you can’t keep going. This is TED’s way of encouraging speakers to come off naturally for the audience. 

“It was a huge commitment to trusting myself when there were no crutches,” Gibson said. “Important things to get out… we’re at a place right now where there’s so much manufactured confusion. So, those of us who can speak clearly, who can speak plainly about complex realities, we have to do it.”

On the day of the talk, the speaker can bring one person to support them on stage while there are up to a hundred people in the audience. Gibson brought her younger brother, Jamie, to support her. In fact, to begin the talk, Gibson shared a bit about Jamie and how he is in an experimental medical procedure that helps and will help many people.

“It’s not that I’m scared to talk about it or it’s a secret, it just doesn’t come up in conversation,” Gibson said. “It was also a way for me to have my family there with me. My brother has been with me always. Jamie was my way of taking the collective. And the way to deal with complexity is through the collective.”

Sharing Jamie’s story not only brought in the audience but connected Gibson with the larger group of people. At TED and other talks, it’s important to ensure you can connect to the audience, or else the talk won’t have much of an impact. In Gibson’s case, she talked about schools. Because the original TED talk title is: “A Love Letter of Courage from Schools” people in the audience were able to connect to it from the start because everyone has been to school, has a loved one that has been to school, or knows about school. 

“There’s a saying I love in literature spoken by William Faulkner,” said Gibson. “In writing, you must kill all your darlings. I had to kill a lot of darlings in this TED talk.”

When all of her words came to an end, it became time for her to continue focusing on expanding the conversation wider.

“I love to work with school leaders, and different teams and corporations about how to honor the difficult moments happening in schools,” said Gibson. “How to make changes with integrity, so that It feels right. I love to work with change strategies and I’m doing some writing around the talk and about me and my brother.”

The full TED talk is expected to come out mid-August for the larger community to learn from. 

“It’s imperfect, but I can’t be so hard on myself, and I can’t drive myself crazy. It’s not even a beginning. It’s a portal into the bigger thing. But it was hard as hell, it was challenging, and I can’t wait to do it again,” Gibson said.

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About the Contributor
Chloe Deutsch
Chloe Deutsch, Culture Critic & Brief Writer
Chloe Deutsch is a sophomore who is so excited to be this year's culture critic and one of your brief writers! This is her second year working with "The Weekly" after being a staff writer. When she isn't writing, you can find her scrolling on Pinterest, reading a book, or hanging out with friends.