Interview with Ashley Kolaya from TED Education

Interview with Ashley Kolaya

Ashley Kolaya - Programme Manager at TED Ed

Ashley is in charge of TED's latest initiative TEDEdClubs! Ashley is social entrepreneur with a knack for building the systems and culture that drive high performing organisations in the public, private and social sectors.

1. What TED education is?

It is TED's youth and education initiative and the mission is to spark and celebrate student's and teacher's ideas from around the world. I ran the students program TEDEd Clubs which is our initiative to celebrate and exemplify students voice.

2. When did it start?

TEDEd started almost 10 years ago but my programme started 3 years ago, we've been operating for 2,5 year. We've had more than 3000 clubs in 120 countries. It grew very quickly.

3. It's amazing. How can we get involved?

It's really simple, actually.

1. Type 'TEDEd Clubs' in Google or this link.

2. Fill short simple application on the website, student or teacher can apply.

3. Do a call with my team. It's usually a video call with me and other applicants from potential clubs around the world.

We just do a brief orientation and after that when your club is approved you get access to all our materials. And then how you run it is up to you. It's designed to be really flexible so the basic structure is 13 sessions, however you can divide it up how it's required, starting with what makes a great idea. You can watch TED talks with your classmates and talk about the ideas and your passion, your curious about you're interested in. Over the next couple of sessions you choose an idea, develop it into the story that you want to tell about that idea, you're working into a talk, you're building visuals and on the end of the clubs cycle you deliver it and record the talk. It's applied to library of students ideas and you'll get the YouTube link to TEDEd talk.

We have a lot of clubs that around students leaders what is very important to us.

4. Sounds amazing! How big is one TEDEd Club?

It depends. We have some that are 2 or 3 students. We have some that are the entire schools that may be a couple of hundreds students in the club. The most common is a classroom size, maybe 15 to 20 students.

5. What do you hope to achieve?

I think, the most important thing to us is allocating students voices. People are pretty quick to say 'education is broken', globally there is a lot of problems with education and our argument is that one of the most things to do if we are going to fix education, is to make students voices a more prominent part of that. The first of these ideas is: how many students ideas can we put out into the world? And how many students can we connect to each other? So that they're learning from one another. Because I guess, our rudimental assumption is that students are not leaders of the future, the people are going to be solving problems are leaders now, your solving problems is now, you have valuable things to say now. We need to listen to them and share, that's the biggest call.

6. What were the best things about TEDxBath?

Having a whole audience of young people is an incredible energy. And that audience makes speakers more honest and more vulnerable. Because they can see the truth. And having the diversity of speakers, such an inspiring group of speakers and having to share a space with that group of people was unbelievable.

7. What advice would you give to students?

The first thing I can say to anyone is 'it's okay'. Because I talk to students every time and usually the question that I ask is 'What's the story that is burning inside you? If you were giving a talk right now, what would it be?'. And sometimes they know the answer - it's LGBTQ issues, music  and passion about this and sometimes it's 'I don't know' and I think, with the work that I do, having a sense of the fact that you can change your mind about that things and you're going to figure things out about yourself and about things that you care about - and that's okay, you can not know that right now. I remember feeling  when I was a teenager like everyone around me seemed to have big ideas and big passion that they were working to and I didn't know what I exactly wanted to do, you can always change your mind, you're never stuck. It was a big lesson for me.

That's true. Thank you very much for our conversation, it was very nice to talk to you!


Interview by year 13 journalism student Paula Kacprzak