Friday, January 20, 2017

5 TED-Ed Lessons about American power, politics and protests

Liberty walking 3 TED-Ed Blog

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress,” said Frederick Douglass in 1857. “Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” [Read the full 1857 speech here, and explore books by Frederick Douglass here.] To learn more US history, watch these 5 TED-Ed Lessons about American power, politics and protests:

1. How to understand power

Every day, we move and operate within systems of power that other people have constructed. But we’re often uncomfortable talking about power. Why? Eric Liu describes the six sources of power and explains how understanding them is key to being an effective citizen. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

2. How is power divided in the United States government?

Articles I-III of the United States Constitution allow for three separate branches of government (legislative, executive, and judicial), along with a system of checks and balances should any branch get too powerful. Belinda Stutzman breaks down each branch and its constitutionally entitled powers. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

3. What you might not know about the Declaration of Independence

In June 1776, a little over a year after the start of the American Revolutionary War, the US Continental Congress huddled together in a hot room in Philadelphia to talk independence. Kenneth C. Davis dives into some of the lesser known facts about the process of writing the Declaration of Independence and questions one very controversial omission. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

4. History vs. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was both beloved and loathed during his presidency. In this imaginary courtroom, you get to be the jury, considering and weighing Jackson’s part in the spoils system, economic depression, and the Indian Removal Act, as well as his patriotism and the pressures of the presidency. James Fester explores how time shapes our relationship to controversial historical figures. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

5. How to turn protest into powerful change

We live in an age of protest. On campuses, in public squares, on streets and social media, protestors around the world are challenging the status quo. But while protest is often necessary, is it sufficient? Eric Liu outlines three strategies for peacefully turning awareness into action and protest into durable political power. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/01/20/5-ted-ed-lessons-about-american-power-politics-and-protests/


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How to tell fake news from real news

TED-Ed Blog news image

In November 2016, Stanford University researchers made an alarming discovery: across the US, many students can’t tell the difference between a reported news article, a persuasive opinion piece, and a corporate ad. This lack of media literacy makes young people vulnerable to getting duped by “fake news” — which can have real consequences.

Want to strengthen your own ability to tell real news from fake news? Start by asking these five questions of any news item:

Who wrote it? Real news contains a byline. Fake news (including “sponsored content” and traditional corporate ads) does not. Once you find the byline, look at the writer’s bio. This can help you identify whether the item you’re reading is a reported news article (written by a journalist) or a persuasive opinion piece (written by an industry expert with a point of view).

What claims does it make? Real news — like these Pulitzer Prize winning articles — will include multiple primary sources when discussing a controversial claim.

When was it published? Look at the publication date. If it’s breaking news, be extra careful. Here’s how to decode breaking news.

Where was it published? Real news is published by trustworthy media outlets, such as the BBC, NPR, or ProPublica.

How does it make you feel? Fake news, like all propaganda, is designed to make you feel strong emotions. So if you read a news item that makes you feel super angry, pause and take a deep breath. Then, check the item’s claims against the news on BBC, NPR, and ProPublica to decide for yourself if the item is real news or fake news.

To dive deeper into news and media literacy, learn how to choose your news.

To learn something new every week, sign up here for the TED-Ed Newsletter.

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/01/12/how-to-tell-fake-news-from-real-news/


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

5 TED-Ed Lessons to watch while you’re at the gym

TED-Ed Blog image
Happy New Year from TED-Ed! If you resolved to exercise more this year, then you’ll love this playlist of original animated videos, curated just for you. Behold, 5 TED-Ed Lessons to watch while you’re at the gym:

1. Why sitting is bad for you

Sitting down for brief periods can help us recover from stress or recuperate from exercise. But nowadays, our lifestyles make us sit much more than we move around. Are our bodies built for such a sedentary existence? Murat Dalkilinç investigates the hidden risks of sitting down. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

2. What makes muscles grow?

We have over 600 muscles in our bodies that help bind us together, hold us up, and help us move. Your muscles also need your constant attention, because the way you treat them on a daily basis determines whether they will wither or grow. Jeffrey Siegel illustrates how a good mix of sleep, nutrition and exercise keep your muscles as big and strong as possible. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

3. What would happen if you didn’t drink water?

Water is essentially everywhere in our world, and the average human is composed of between 55 and 60% water. So what role does water play in our bodies, and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy? Mia Nacamulli details the health benefits of hydration. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

4. The treadmill’s dark and twisted past

The constant thud underneath your feet. The constrained space. The monotony of going nowhere fast. Running on a treadmill can certainly feel like torture, but did you know it was originally used for that very purpose? Conor Heffernan details the dark and twisted history of the treadmill. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

5. How playing sports benefits your body … and your brain

The victory of the underdog. The last minute penalty shot that wins the tournament. The training montage. Many people love to glorify victory on the field, cheer for teams, and play sports. But should we be obsessed with sports? Are sports as good for us as we make them out to be, or are they just a fun and entertaining pastime? Leah Lagos and Jaspal Ricky Singh show what science has to say on the matter. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/01/10/5-ted-ed-lessons-to-watch-while-youre-at-the-gym/


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How to use littleBits to teach design thinking in the classroom

littleBits TED-Ed Blog

Design thinking is both a mindset and a methodology. As a mindset, it’s about putting people at the center of your work. As a methodology, it’s about defining a problem, prototyping rapidly, and then implementing a human-centered design solution. This way of thinking can be used to solve problems, large and small — from designing a new hospital layout to minimize the spread of germs, to creating a new design for a spoon.

In the classroom, design thinking can provide a powerful platform for creative and innovative learning. One tool that can help you teach design thinking skills in a playful and creative way is littleBits. The colorful Bits snap together with magnets, making it a fast and easy way for students to learn how to solve a real-world challenge and invent with electronics.

Screen Shot 2017-01-03 at 1.25.49 PM

For example, the Invent For Good Challenge, which focuses on empathy, challenges students to find a problem that’s affecting someone else and come up with a solution to solve it. Using the littleBits Invention Cycle, which draws inspiration from Stanford d. school’s design thinking process (identify a problem, brainstorm ideas to solve it, prototype a solution, test/play with it to see if it works, and learn from your findings to improve it), students are able to quickly invent solutions to address the problem that they’ve identified. Students go through the process, step-by-step, and document what they’re doing as they go along using the littleBits Invention Log. Sharing is also encouraged as an important part of the feedback process; you can view and comment on inventions from creators all around the world on the littleBits invention page. Three amazing examples: 8-year old João from Brazil invented a prosthetic arm, 11-year-old Anahit and her sister from California created a device to help the blind navigate, and middle-schooler Max from Ohio built a smart way to socialize cats.

What will students design, invent, and create in your classroom this year? Let’s find out!

To get more classroom inspiration delivered to your inbox, sign up for the TED-Ed weekly newsletter here >>

Art credit: littleBits

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2017/01/03/how-to-use-littlebits-to-teach-design-thinking-in-the-classroom/


Thursday, December 15, 2016

The top 10 most popular TED-Ed Original animated videos from 2016

TED-Ed Blog image top 10

TED-Ed Originals are short, award-winning animated videos about ideas. Three times a week, you can watch a brand new TED-Ed Original designed to spark your curiosity. Ready to catch up on the latest riddles? In a binge-watching mood? Start with this list of the top 10 most popular TED-Ed Originals released in 2016:

1. Can you solve the temple riddle?

Your expedition finally stands at the heart of the ancient temple. But as you study the inscriptions in the darkness, two wisps of green smoke burst forth. The walls begin to shake. The giant sandglass begins flowing with less than an hour before it empties, and a rumbling tells you that you don’t want to be around when that happens. Can you use math to escape the temple? Dennis E. Shasha shows how. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

2. Can you solve the locker riddle?

Your rich, eccentric uncle just passed away, and you and your 99 nasty relatives have been invited to the reading of his will. He wanted to leave all of his money to you, but he knew that if he did, your relatives would pester you forever. Can you solve the riddle he left for you and get the inheritance? Lisa Winer shows how. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

3. Can you solve the frog riddle?

You’re stranded in a rainforest, and you’ve eaten a poisonous mushroom. To save your life, you need an antidote excreted by a certain species of frog. Unfortunately, only the female frog produces the antidote. The male and female look identical, but the male frog has a distinctive croak. Derek Abbott shows how to use conditional probability to make sure you lick the right frog and get out alive. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

4. Can you solve the passcode riddle?

In a dystopian world, your resistance group is humanity’s last hope. Unfortunately, you’ve all been captured by the tyrannical rulers and brought to the ancient coliseum for their deadly entertainment. Will you be able to solve the passcode riddle and get everyone out safely? Ganesh Pai shows how. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

5. What would happen if you didn’t drink water?

Water is essentially everywhere in our world, and the average human is composed of between 55 and 60% water. So what role does water play in our bodies, and how much do we actually need to drink to stay healthy? Mia Nacamulli details the health benefits of hydration. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

6. Can you solve the prisoner boxes riddle?

Your favorite band is great at playing music…but not so great at being organized. They keep misplacing their instruments on tour, and it’s driving their manager mad. Can you solve the brain-numbing riddle their manager assigns them and make sure the band stays on their label? Yossi Elran shows how. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

7. Why do cats act so weird?

They’re cute, they’re lovable, and judging by the 26 billion views on over 2 million YouTube videos of them, one thing is certain: cats are very entertaining. But their strange feline behaviors, both amusing and baffling, leave many of us asking: Why do cats do that? Tony Buffington explains the science behind some of your cat’s strangest behaviors. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

8. The psychology of narcissism

Narcissism isn’t just a personality type that shows up in advice columns; it’s actually a set of traits classified and studied by psychologists. But what causes it? And can narcissists improve on their negative traits? W. Keith Campbell describes the psychology behind the elevated and sometimes detrimental self-involvement of narcissists. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

9. Can you solve the control room riddle?

As your country’s top spy, you must infiltrate the headquarters of the evil syndicate, find the secret control panel, and deactivate their death ray. But your reconnaissance team is spotty, and you have only limited information about the control panel’s whereabouts. Can you solve the control room riddle and deactivate their weapon in time? Dennis Shasha shows you how. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

10. How did Hitler rise to power?

Decades after the fall of the Third Reich, it feels impossible to understand how Adolf Hitler, the tyrant who orchestrated one of the largest genocides in human history, could ever have risen to power in a democratic country. So how did it happen, and could it happen again? Alex Gendler and Anthony Hazard dive into the history and circumstances that allowed Hitler to become Führer of Germany. Watch this TED-Ed Original below.

On behalf of everyone here at TED-Ed, thanks for learning with us this year!

To get brand new TED-Ed Originals delivered to your inbox for free in 2017, sign up for the TED-Ed weekly newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/12/16/the-top-10-most-popular-ted-ed-original-animated-videos-from-2016/


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

5 words that don’t mean what they used to mean

Image TED McWhorter

“Words over time have a way of just oozing around,” says linguist John McWhorter. Below, he traces the evolution of five words that have spent millennia drifting from one meaning into another:

1. Audition

Shouldn’t audition mean in terms of what we otherwise expect of the aud– root? Audio comes to mind, as well as audiovisual, audiology, etc. Yet audition immediately brings to mind someone trying out for a part in a play or film. That’s only because of implication and drift.

When it first appeared in English, borrowed from Latin, audition indeed meant “hearing.” When a doctor recommended a substance that “draweth all out which is in the Eares, and administreth good auditione,” he meant that having your ears clear of whatever the disgusting stuff was, your hearing got better, not that it got you a part in the latest production of Henry V.

However, naturally, tryouts for such productions might naturally come to be called “hearings,” as they involved listening to someone recite. If one wanted to fancy up the word “hearing” a bit, a tendency hardly unlikely among writerly sorts, then the term would be audition. To people in the late 19th century who first started using audition in that way, the word would have meant what it sounded like; the component of hearing in the word would have been intuitively felt. In fact, the word was first used for musical tryouts, where sound was indeed all that mattered, as opposed to appearance and movement.

However, after a while, audition came to be used solely in reference to tryouts for performances, while elsewhere, hearing became the word English speakers beyond medical practitioners used to refer to the perception of sound. Then implication settled in: if it’s an audition when someone gets up and sings, then it hardly seems unreasonable to call it an audition as well when the next person gets up and does an acrobatic trick. Today, one could audition to be a mime. To an Elizabethan, that usage would sound as strange as doing tai chi to get a part in La Bohème.

2. Commodity

We are accustomed to hearing the term commodity used to refer to certain staple products whose quality is largely invariant no matter the producer, such as salt and crude oil. More precisely, commodities are associated with futures contracts offered to producers of them, which guarantee a uniform price regardless of fluctuations in the market — good for the seller when the market is down, and for the contract holder when the market is up. That is an almost viciously specific usage for a term that even people outside of finance are regularly confronted with. However, the temptation to blame financiers for wanting to keep their business obscure is unnecessary.

Commodity was first a word about comfort, as in accommodation. A 1488 book printed by the pioneer printer of English William Caxton dismisses certain men who excessively “encline to the rest and commodity of the body.” Anyone would spontaneously extend that meaning to things that make one comfortable and are therefore, in themselves, commodities. Thus by 1615 there were usages such as describing the god Vulcan as “the first that found out the commodity of fire.” Fire would have been as novel and invaluable a comfort, i.e. a commodity, to earlier man as eye pillows and Jack Daniels are to us now.

But from there, it’s a short step to thinking of a whole class of staple items as basic commodities of life, such that the word that began as describing the pleasure of spreading out on a sofa was now applied to soybeans heaped cold and dirty in a freight car in January. All that’s needed to get from there to now is the incorporation of products like that into a futures market, such that commodities are discussed less in themselves than as a shorthand for futures contracts based on them that yield an abstract form of recompense. From stretching out after a long day to a soybean to an intangible and vaguely seedy financial arrangement — step by step.

3. Fine

Fine comes from French’s fin which means end. Even in French the word had morphed — one way of being at the end of something is to be at the top of the line, the ultimate; i.e. the best. Think of the quaintish expression even in English “the living end” to praise something. Hence fin meant both “end” as well as “of high quality,” and the latter meaning is what made it into English. “Men findis lompis on the sand Of ter, nan finer in that land,” says the historical chronicle Cursor Mundi around 1300 — “You find lumps on the sand of tar, none finer in that land.” Tar? I know; tastes vary, but we can accept that if one were into tar, certain lumps of it could qualify as fine indeed — as in solid, lovely, and exquisite (I’m trying!).

In any case, we still use fine that way in a fine day or a fine rendition.

However, notice that those usages are a touch quaint in feel, and meanwhile, the word has moved along elsewhere. Most immediately, most would associate fine with the meaning “delicate” — fine lace, fine distinctions. That is based on implication: one way for something to be of high quality is to be made with delicate precision. If things of that nature are referred to as fine with enough frequency, people will start to link the word not just to high quality, but to more specific things like delicate tracery, doily patterns, just the right violin, dainty walks, and so on.

Meanwhile, those who would not think of the “delicate” meaning might mention the usage “I’m fine” in response to being asked how one is doing. Here, the meaning is neither “exquisite” as a lump of tar nor “delicate” like lace, but a wan assurance that one is unhurt (“Oh, I’m fine — it was just a scratch.”). Emotional and social expressions have a way of watering down with use. Goodbye started as “God Be With You,” darn started as eternal damnation, lol started as “laughing out loud.” I’m fine began as meaning one was terrific, with that earlier meaning of fine (i.e. in the sense that requires us today to say we are “great” or “fantastic”), but gradually whittled down with centuries of use into meaning “I’m not dead.”

Thus the answer to “What does fine mean?” is richer than we might suppose, because words don’t sit still. The word we see at the end of a French film meaning end – “FIN” – in English has a different meaning before a noun (a fine day) than after it (My father is fine), and elsewhere refers to the texture of a hairnet. Then, let’s not even get into the fine that you can be given for parking in the wrong place, which is, indeed, another drifting from that same word that once just meant “end.”

4. Minority

Minority in American English has taken on, via implications, a meaning quite far from what the word originally referred to. One may even never have occasion to consider that minority’s “real” meaning is supposed to be “the smaller portion.” What began as a technical and euphemistic reference to people of color was used in that way so often that today, in the minds of American English speakers minority refers specifically to people of the color in question — brown. That is, minorities are considered to be black and Latino people. Minority feels forced when applied to other groups, even when they too constitute numerical minorities of the population. The word has always felt somewhat awkward applied even to Asians, and when whites technically become a numerical minority in the United States, minority will not be transferred to them.

Rather, to the extent that the term survives, it will likely continue to be applied to black and Latino people, especially in more casual conversations, even when Latinos outnumber whites. “We’re all minorities now!” some will point out — upon which most will guiltily feel that the word doesn’t feel right when applied to whites. That feeling will be justified, since in its demographic usage, minority ceased to be a numerical term sometime in the seventies, whatever the dictionary definition specifies. Word meanings drift as always, this time from referring to a proportion to referring to darkly-complected people. “He’s a minority” — imagine how queerly illogical that sentence would sound to someone transported to our times from 1600. “A minority of what?”

5. Merry

Merry started out meaning “short,” believe it or not. But that which is short is often pleasant, since so many things go on too long. Note how pastime (as in passing the time), for example, connotes the joys of brevity contravened by Die Walküre and Apocalypse Now. After a while, a word that first meant “short” meant “short and sweet” and finally, just sweet. Meanwhile, earlier English did have the word short itself, but even it had once meant something different, “sliced off” — that which is cut off is often a short thing, hence …

The joyous meaning of merry was a beautiful demonstration of the element of chance in how words’ meanings move along. The earliest rendition we can get a sense of for merry is that on the Ukrainian steppes several thousand years ago, in the ancestor to most of today’s European languages, it was mregh. In Greece, this word for short morphed not into merriment but into the word for upper arm, brakhion. The sounds in mregh and brakh match better than it looks on paper: for one thing, both m and b are produced by putting your lips together and so it’s easy for one to change into the other. As to meaning, it was a matter of implications, this time in one of the things the word was applied to rather than the word itself. The upper arm is shorter than the lower, and hence one might start referring to the upper arm as the “shorter,” and the rest was history. Calling your upper arm your “shorter” is not appreciably odder than calling cut-off pants shorts, after all.

The process never stops. It seems that in Latin this brakh ended up, among other places, in a pastry; namely, one resembling folded arms, called a brachitella. Old High German picked that up as brezitella; by Middle High German people were saying brezel. Today, brezel is pretzel — from that same word that meant short and now connotes joyousness in English. In France, that “brach” root drifted into a word referring to shoulder straps, or by extension, a child’s little chemise undershirt. Women can wear chemises too, but garments, like words, have a way of changing over the centuries, and after a while the brassière had evolved into more specific anatomical dedication than a chemise’s. The modern word bra, then, is what happens when a word for “short” drifts step-by-step into new realms. Merry, pretzel and bra are, in a sense, all the same word – and yet contests could be held challenging people to even use all three in a sentence (or at least one that made any sense).

John McWhorter is an associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, where he teaches linguistics, western civilization and music history. The article above is an edited excerpt from Words on the Move: Why English Won’t – and Can’t – Sit Still (Like, Literally) by John McWhorter (Henry Holt, 2016). (Read a longer excerpt on Ideas.ted.com.) Image credit: Ellen Porteus/TED. Below, watch a TED-Ed Lesson by McWhorter:

To learn something new every week, sign up for the TED-Ed Newsletter here >>

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/12/13/5-words-that-dont-mean-what-they-used-to-mean/


Thursday, December 8, 2016

The world’s required reading list: The books that students read in 28 countries

requiredreadingTEDEdBlogimage

This compilation of reading assigned to students everywhere will expand your horizons — and your bookshelves.

In the US, most students are required to read To Kill a Mockingbird during their school years. This classic novel combines a moving coming-of-age story with big issues like racism and criminal injustice. Reading Mockingbird is such an integral part of the American educational experience that we wondered: What classic books are assigned to students elsewhere?

We posed this question to our TED-Ed Innovative Educators and members of the TED-Ed Community. People all over the globe responded, and we curated our list to focus on local authors. Many respondents made it clear in their countries, as in the US, few books are absolutely mandatory. Take a look at what students in countries from Ireland to Iran, Ghana to Germany, are asked to read and why:

Afghanistan

Quran
What it’s about: The revelations of God as told to the prophet Muhammad, this is the central religious text of Islam and remains one of the major works of Arabic literature.
Why it’s taught: “Overall, there is no culture of reading novels in my country, which is sad,” says Farokh Attah. “The only book that must be read in school is the holy Quran, and everyone is encouraged to read it starting from childhood.”

Albania

Kronikë në gur (1971) by Ismail Kadare
What it’s about: Known in English as Chronicle in Stone, this novel is told through the eyes of a child and shows how different conquering forces — Italian fascist, Greek and Nazi — ravage a small Albanian city during World War II.
Why it’s taught: Kadare is one of the most critically acclaimed Albanian writers, and was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. This book “helps you understand vividly what World War II meant for the people who lived through those events,” says Vaitson Çumaku. “Because it’s from the perspective of a child, it also shows you that there can be optimism during hard times.”

Australia

Tomorrow, When the War Began (1993) by John Marsden
What it’s about: A teenage girl and her friends return from a camping trip to find that an unidentified foreign military force has invaded Australia.
Why it’s taught: This book “speaks to our fear of invasion and our fighting spirit,” says Beth James Waters. It also “beautifully portrays the vastness of and abundant natural dangers in our land.”

Austria

Faust (1787) by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
What it’s about: In this play, a scholar named Faust makes a pact with Mephistopheles — the devil — because Faust is dissatisfied with life. The devil says he will grant Faust a transcendent moment, but in return, Faust must act as his servant for eternity in hell. Through the devil’s intervention, Faust falls in love with a beautiful young girl named Gretchen. Tragedy ensues.
Why it’s taught: It raises many vast philosophical debates, including science versus spirituality, reason versus passion, and salvation versus damnation, and “it can be interpreted in many ways,” says Barbara Paulmayer. “Faust is not as easy to understand as newer pieces of literature, so it stimulates students to think in a different way.” In addition, its plot and themes have gone on to influence many other works.

Bosnia; Serbia

Na drini ćuprija (1945) by Ivo Andrić
What it’s about: Known in English as The Bridge on the Drina, this novel sweeps through 300 years in a small town near the Mehmed Pasha Sokolović bridge. Its story begins in the 16th-century Ottoman Empire, when the bridge was built, to World War I, when it was partially destroyed.
Why it’s taught: Andrić received a Nobel Prize, and so far he has been the only Nobel Prize winner from Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia. “It is truly a timeless book,” says Martin Kondža. “Its themes and stories also apply to humanity today. The bridge acts as a dumb witness to empires being born and crushed, human lives reaching their peaks and depths, and countries being established and destroyed.”

Brazil

Morte e vida Severina (1955) by João Cabral de Melo Neto
What it’s about: Known in English as The Death of a Severino, this play in verse is about the arduous journey of a man who is fleeing the drought- and poverty-stricken northeastern region of Brazil in search of a better situation and the city.
Why it’s taught: “It shows the dual conditions that the country has always presented and still presents — poor lives, inequality, ignorance, and silent people, versus a city population, with all its advantages — and the distance between these two groups,” says Andrea Rodrigues.

Bulgaria

Under the Yoke (1894) by Ivan Vazov
What it’s about: This novel looks at a Bulgarian village under Ottoman rule and depicts a failed insurrection in the 1870s that helped trigger the country’s eventual breakaway. The large cast of characters includes villagers on both sides of the rebellion.
Why it’s taught: For one thing, Vazov is seen as the father of Bulgarian literature. But, adds Kristine O’Malley, “Being enslaved by the Ottoman Empire and the struggle for independence have shaped the national identity of Bulgarians,” making this book a perennially popular read.

Canada

The Wars (1977) by Timothy Findley
What it’s about: Robert Ross, a 19-year-old Canadian, tries to cope with the death of his sister by enlisting to fight in World War I. Beset by his own demons, he travels to France where he fights in the trenches and sees the worst of warfare — and of humanity.
Why it’s taught: “It’s an iconic Canadian novel. It’s so brutally honest in its depiction of war, sorrow, and coming to terms with an uncaring world in one’s own way,” says Karen Goepen-Wee. “This text does not tread lightly around the angst and horror of World War 1 for Canadian soldiers,” says Will Gourley.

Chile

Sub Terra (1904) by Baldomero Lillo
What it’s about: This short-story collection is about the backbreaking, impoverished, dangerous existence of coal miners in southern Chile in the late 19th century.
Why it’s taught: Sub Terra represents an important part of Chile’s history,” says Natalia Salamanca Moreno. “These stories show students a lifestyle that is completely different from theirs today, which can help them appreciate what they have now. The stories also emphasize important, timeless family values, like being thankful for your parents and their efforts.”

China

Analects by Confucius
What it’s about: This book is a compilation of the teachings of the ancient philosopher Confucius; it’s believed to have been written sometime between 475 BC and 221 BC.
Why it’s taught: “Teachers want students to learn good morals from the Analects, like showing respect to your parents, learning merit from others no matter their status, and using critical thinking,” says Aylee Lu. “This book remains a cornerstone of Chinese culture.”

Colombia

Cien años de Soledad (1967) by Gabriel García Márquez
What it’s about: This pioneering fictional work of magical realism — known to English-language readers as 100 Years of Solitude — traces the rise and fall of a fictional Colombian town through five generations of the Buendía family, starting in the early 19th century.
Why it’s taught: Márquez is considered one of the most important writers in the Spanish language, and he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. This novel depicts the violence that has plagued Colombia for decades, and “shows how much corruption and suffering Colombians have endured,” says Daniela Ramirez Barreto. “Yet there is something about us that refuses to give up.”

Cyprus

The Murderess (1903) by Alexandros Papadiamantis
What it’s about: This novella is about an old woman named Hadoula who lives on the island of Skiathos. She murders poor young girls as a kind of mercy killing, since she views their future prospects to be limited and bleak.
Why it’s taught: “It sheds light on the role of women and on gender roles within marriage; these are of great importance in Cyprus and Greece,” says Evanthia Poyiatzi. “And it makes students decide whether the woman’s behavior is ethical or unethical.”

Egypt

The Days (1935) by Taha Hussein
What it’s about: This book is the autobiography of intellectual and writer Hussein, who lived from 1889 to 1973. He became blind at the age of 3 but grew up to be the minister of education in his country and is one of the most influential figures in Egyptian literature.
Why it’s taught: The book teaches students “the importance of gathering knowledge, the need to rebel against traditions and the negative effects of ignorance upon individuals in a society,” says Mahmoud Attalla.

Finland

Seitsemän veljestä (1870) by Aleksis Kivi
What it’s about: Known in English as Seven Brothers, this book is about a quarrelsome family of seven brothers and their struggles in rural Finland. They eventually grow and mature into decent members of society.
Why it’s taught: It is believed to be the first truly Finnish novel by a Finnish author in the Finnish language about ordinary people. “It’s considered the national novel of Finland,” says Jaani Länsiö. “It’s about Finnish stubbornness.”

Germany

Tagebuch der Anne Frank (1947)
What it’s about: Known in English as The Diary of Anne Frank, this journal was kept by a Jewish girl named Anne Frank as she lived with her family in hiding in Amsterdam under Nazi occupation.
Why it’s taught: “We should never forget what horrors were unleashed by narrow-thinking people,” says Charlotte Böhm.

Ghana; Nigeria

Things Fall Apart (1958) by Chinua Achebe
What it’s about: Set in Nigeria in the 1900s, this novel follows Okonkwo, an Igbo leader and village wrestling champion, his journey to power and glory, and his eventual fall when he fights back against white colonialists.
Why it’s taught: “On the surface, it’s a celebration of African traditionalism and how those ideals were washed away with the coming of the missionaries,” says Ama Y Adi-Dako. “At the heart of it, though, it is a critical look at the concept and drawbacks of African and tribal masculinity.”

Indonesia

Laskar Pelangi (2005) by Andrea Hirata
What it’s about: Known in English as Rainbow Troops, this novel is based on a true story about ten students from a remote village in Indonesia who, with the help of a pair of inspiring teachers, learn to stand up for themselves and their community.
Why it’s taught: It teaches “sacrifice, dedication, hard work, passion, brotherhood, friendship, optimism and perseverance in the face of challenges,” says Mahrukh Bashir.

India

Autobiography: The Story of My Experiments With Truth(1927-1929) by Mohandas K. Gandhi
What it’s about: The Indian leader’s memoir covers his life from his childhood to his early 50s.
Why it’s taught: “This book upholds the essence of living a life with dignity, which is possible only through truth and nonviolence,” says Bismi Sain.

Iran

Poems by writers such as HafizSa’AddiFerdowsiRumi and Khayyam
What they’re about: Love, beauty, joy and other themes.
Why they’re taught: “In Iran, the novel is a relatively newer form of literature,” says Ne Da. “But among our literary classics are abundant poets and poetry. Each poem speaks to a different value.”

Ireland

Ice Man: the Adventures of an Irish Antarctic Hero (2003) by Michael Smith
What it’s about: It’s a biography of Tom Crean, an Irish boy who ran away from home at the age of 15 to join Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s Antarctic voyage. He was also a member of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition.
Why it’s taught: “It shows that the Irish are ambitious explorers who can triumph over adversity and that through hard work, focus and dedication, everything is possible,” says Naoimh Morton.

Italy

I Promessi Sposi (1827) by Alessandro Manzoni
What it’s about: Known in English as The Betrothed, this novel takes place in northern Italy in the first half of the 17th century. Italy was not yet a nation, and this book shows the lives of villagers living under repressive Spanish rule as well as the impact of a deadly plague that killed many people.
Why it’s taught: “I Promessi Sposi is one of the two pillars of Italian literature,” says Sofia Ramundo. “It’s still relevant today because it helped set the basis for what the Italian language is.”

Pakistan

The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007) by Mohsin Hamid
What it’s about: An international bestseller, this novel follows the story of a Pakistani man as he reflects on his time in the United States before and after the events of September 11, 2001.
Why it’s taught: “These books touch the unique dilemmas faced by modern Pakistanis who are struggling with fundamental ideals and trying to find their own identity,” says Vajiha Atiq.

Philippines

Noli Me Tangere (1887) by Jose Rizal
What it’s about: Rizal went on to be a hero of the Philippine revolution, and his novel — the English-language title is Touch Me Not — shows life in the Philippines society under cruel, repressive, arbitrary Spanish Catholic rule.
Why it’s taught: By combining a dramatic story with an activist message, this novel has been compared to Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. It is taught to help students “appreciate the efforts of our forefathers in shaping our independence,” says John Eric Uy.

Russia

War and Peace (1869) by Leo Tolstoy
What it’s about: Following the lives and loves of five families, this epic novel begins in 1805 and continues through Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia.
Why it’s taught: War and Peace “is basically speaking about every aspect of our life: how to be valuable in society, how to be forgiving, and how to be respectful,” says Valentina Ishmanova. “I believe everyone goes through the same situations as Tolstoy’s characters Natasha, Pierre, and Prince Andrei.”

US

To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee
What it’s about: A classic novel about the American South in the 1930s that illustrates how racism, sexism and injustice have shaped US history (and still cause harm today).
Why it’s taught: “We’re still dealing with racism and systematic prejudice, especially in the legal system in the US,” says Shaun McGovern.

Vietnam

Truyện Kiều (1820) by Nguyễn Du
What it’s about: It’s an epic narrative poem about a young woman named Truyen Kieu who is driven to sacrifice herself to save her family.
Why it’s taught: Known in English as The Tale of Kiều, the poem shows “the humanity and the beauty of my country,” says Joy Truong, who adds that she likes its positive qualities, a stark contrast to most other stories and poems which “focus on the difficulties of the Vietnamese.”

via TED-Ed Blog http://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/12/08/the-worlds-required-reading-list-the-books-that-students-read-in-28-countries/