TED Talks for Transformation: Ramsey Musallam

This month I seek to provide inspiration for transformation by paying homage to some of the most impactful TED Talks available, related to education.  Success will be gained if more educators and campus/district administrators are drawn to not only watching the TED Talks mentioned, but also sharing them with others through conversations rooted in the Visioning work.  The first week, connections were made to Rita Pierson’s Every Kid Needs a Champion.  Then, last week Todd Nesloney explained the many reasons Kids Deserve It.

Now, we hear from Ramsey Musallam and his 3 Rules to Spark Learning.

A high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Musallam challenges us to perplex, confuse, and evoke real questions in our students.  He articulates the value of inquiry in the classroom and encourages us to not allow technology or jargon get in the way.

Mr. Musallam was inspired by the confidence of his own surgeon, who would go on to perform open heart surgery and save his life.  He absorbed the words of wisdom of his doctor and crafted these parallel rules for his own classroom:

  1. Curiosity comes first
  2. Embrace the mess
  3. Practice reflection

Mr. Musallam makes a connection between his own child (as a metaphor for all kids) to our role as cultivators of curiosity and inquiry.  He explains the challenge for future teachers to continue nurturing the questions that come so natural to young children.

“Student questions are the seeds of real learning.”

We read in Article II: The New Learning Standards of the Visioning Document this premise: II.e Standards should tap curiosity and imagination in the traditional academic core, aesthetic and skill areas in a way that lack of proficiency in any one area does not discourage students from recognizing and pursuing their special talents and learning in other areas.  As a teacher, this should lead to the reflective question: In what ways does my lesson design encourage student curiosity?  This ownership of the lesson design implies the responsibility to include opportunities for students to question and inquire.

If inquiry is an act of asking for information, we should strive to provide this opportunity to seek content, knowledge, and understanding in all learning experiences we design.


I encourage you to watch (or re-watch) Ramsey Musallam’s TED Talk and talk to someone about it.  Ask questions.  Challenge your thinking.

“Leave behind the simple role of disseminators of content.”
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