Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ken Robinson

Boom of female-led TEDx events in Lebanon?

In 2008, Patricia Zougheib was at work in Beirut, Lebanon, when she came across a video of Jill Bolte Taylor describing her own stroke. She was awed, and Googled the three red letters she noticed in the background—T-E-D. “I started watching one talk after the other,” she says, “and I got hooked, big-time.”

Jessica Gross posted on May 19, 2014

For a while, Zougheib kept her TED habit her own special secret, watching talks alone at her advertising job. “But then I thought, after one year, ‘No, this is too good not to be shared.’”

She introduced her husband to TED, and the two decided to invite some friends over to their house to watch and discuss talks.

TEDxSKE, the first TEDx event in Lebanon, started as a gathering of 6 friends — but it has led to a boom of TEDx events in the country, most of them helmed by women.

No one can explain why women are drawn to TEDx organizing here—but regardless of the reason, they are spreading ideas to attendees of both genders.

Zougheib knew TEDxSKE had reached a turning point when strangers started asking to join in. “It became an open house,” she says. “Of course, a limited open house, because our house can only fit 20 to 25 persons max.”

Two years later, the weekly salon was still thriving.

“I started saying, this salon is kind of changing our lives. Everyone is being affected by this,” Zougheib says. “I thought, if this small salon was having this much effect, we should do the big event with our speakers.”

She gathered a team of regular TEDxSKE attendees to lead another, bigger salon and to launch the main event TEDxBeirut.

The scene at TEDxSKE, held in the home of Patricia TK. Photo: Courtesy of TEDxSKE

At the same time, Reine Azzi, a teacher at Lebanese American University (LAU), was having her own TED moment. Scrolling through her Facebook feed, she came across one of Sir Ken Robinson’s talks, which an American friend had posted. “Because I’m a teacher, the title intrigued me, so I clicked,” she says. “And I fell in love with what he had to say.”

She watched all of Robinson’s talks and, the next day, approached her boss to ask about screening one of them as a lecture on campus. The event was small, but shortly after, someone introduced Azzi and Zougheib, who was still scouting locations for the inaugural TEDxBeirut salon. Azzi offered up the LAU campus, and the event drew 150 people. (I attended this event)

Things snowballed. Azzi held the first TEDxLAU salon in 2012.

Six salons and two main events later, “TEDxLAU events are always sold out. Always. It’s amazing,” Azzi says; the last salon, on mental health, sold out within 24 hours. “It’s as if students on campus were thirsty for events like these—events that are intellectual but at the same time humane … You don’t have a speaker who is just standing behind a table reading from a manuscript. You have a speaker who is sharing heart and soul with you.

Balloons at a TEDxBeirutSalon. Photo: Nadim Kamel

TEDxBeirut, meanwhile, has held eight salons and two main events, which featured local speakers and drew 700, then 1,200, attendees.

In fact, the organization grew so quickly that Zougheib quit her job and took 16 months to work solely on TEDxBeirut.

“I loved it—it was the best 16 months of my life,” she says. Not sustainable, though (“neither for me nor my husband”), so she’s back at work and has passed TEDxBeirut off to a team of four co-leaders. But she is still actively spreading TEDx.

“Everyone started asking us, ‘Please come do your event at our university!’” Zougheib says. Instead of taking the event on the road, she encouraged people to get their own licenses. TEDx salons mushroomed across Lebanon; there are now about 10.

Natalia Geha, for one, attended TEDxBeirut a few years ago, and just held her first TEDxNDULouaize salon at Notre Dame University-Louaize in January, with musical performances in addition to talk screenings and discussions. “I think it’s interesting that TED is becoming so popular in Lebanon, because we really lack cultural events,” she says.

A TEDxSKE salon, held in a beautiful venue. Photo: Nadim Kamel

It’s a sentiment echoed by Zougheib almost verbatim. “The movement is spreading like no other movement I’ve seen, ever,” she says. “We didn’t have many cultural events happening here. There was a lack.”

Zougheib also points out that media—internationally, but within Lebanon, too—tend to focus on turmoil, to the exclusion of achievement.

She wanted TEDxBeirut to be a platform for showing the inventiveness and creativity of her compatriots. “We all need non-political platforms where we can express our ideas, talk about our inventions, say that young people are as lively as they are elsewhere,” she says. “We do have ideas, believe it or not. Even if we come from Lebanon.”

Note: I attended many of TEDx events in Lebanon and joined the open-house several times: I took every opportunity when I could get a ride, particularly with my nephew William Choukeir who was co-sponsor of Tedx in its beginning and later headed the set-up of TEDxBeirut.

Riad Houeiss, Patsy hubby, took the trouble a couple of times to fetch me from home.

And got used to removing my shoes outside in order not to ruin the floor.

I posted countless reviews and reports on the events.

The cake at TEDxSKE's 5th anniversary party. Photo: Patrick Abi Salloum

Are you intelligent?  What is being intelligent?

It is frustrating to read “successful” people (mostly US writers) bragging that they were nil in math; that they barely managed addition or subtraction…

They should bluntly state: “I was mentally challenged” and then declare that they did catch up by continuing education to learn some rudiment of math.   I declare that I am mentally challenged in “verbal conversation“, unable to capturing the lyrics in songs,  not adapted for poker games, cannot experience  “out-of-body experience“, cannot be hypnotized, cannot focus long enough for any feeling or benefit in meditation, and that the “Nutcracker” ballet didn’t leave any trace in my memory or feelings, that my brain needs time to gestate (ruminate) ideas and to restructure new models for topics under discussion…

And I am not happy for these failures in artistic abilities that I was not exposed to in my schooling and family environment.  I need to be reincarnated to experience the feelings of everything artistic that I missed in this life.

In addition to the commonly know 5 senses, (in fact there are about 10 senses that capture the conditions exerted by outside and inside environments, such as the sense of balance in movement, acceleration, internal temperature, kinesthetic feeling of the muscles…), we can capture so many feedback from outside and inside that we are not aware how our world view was formed and transformed.

People may be aware of only the 3 main categories of intelligence, mainly analytic, creative, and practical intelligence.

The analytic intelligence is supposed to account for our ability to solving academic problems (in courses that we are taught in school) and to completing biased IQ tests.

The creative intelligence is the ability to resolving novel situations and coming up with “original solutions” by looking at the problem from different perspectives

The practical intelligence is the ability to dealing with everyday challenges for maintaining, managing, and controlling our survival.

You are justified to asking: “where do synthesis intelligence, pragmatic intelligence, social communication, verbal communication and conversation, and emotional and discussion abilities fall within the three previous categories?”  

How knowing our capabilities, limitations, shortcoming, and our main passions come into play in this varieties of intelligence?

How learning argument avoidance techniques works?

How we sense in our guts new experiences and incoming dangers?

How do we fall in love and maintain the level of our affection and energy flowing?

Obviously, not all kinds of intelligences emanate directly from the brain, though the repeated and frequent experiences, observations, and feelings are ultimately registered in the brain or in our various memories (short-term, working, and long-term memories).

The neurological network in our intestinal tracts and other internal organs, as well as our muscles, are essential “intelligence sites” that coordinate with the cognitive and limbic brain systems and networks.

We can say that we think in sounds (rhythmical, musical, melody, tonality).

We think visually (color, shape, tone…),

We think kinesthetically in dancing, walking…

We think by metaphor and analogies to comparing notions in different perspectives.

There are features to intelligence such as diversity (verbal, math, reasoning…), dynamic in creativity and interactive relationship, and distinctive intelligence so that every individual has his unique brand of collective intelligence.

A group of psychology and neuroscientists experts were asked to evaluate 25 attributes related to intelligence. Only 25% of them agreed on three attributes.

And you wonder: “if we asked experts to describing edible mushrooms and only 25% of them agree on the poisonous types of mushrooms then, how many might consider it prudent to avoid the subject altogether?”

I ask you: “where imagination comes from; or empathy, or a sense of integration with the universe, our collective intelligence for local survival…”?

If someone asks you: “On a scale of 1 to 9, how intelligent do you grade yourself?”  

Would you fall in the trap before asking: “What do you mean by intelligence?  How do you discriminate among intelligence?  Why is it so important for you to know how intelligent I am?  What types of intelligences are more important to you?”

I recall during my PhD dissertation in the late 80’s that a psychologist and an industrial engineering professor received a grant from the military air force to setting up a battery of tests and skills in order to sort out the applicants for the air force pilots; I was refused to participate in this research program as a non-citizen, but I tested it.  As far as I recall, there were not an emotional or communication skills tested.  It is as if pilot will be trained to shoot down enemy planes as efficiently as robots.

From my observations, I feel that bright people share 3 features:

First, when attending lessons or sessions, they can focus on the lesson with undivided attention.

Second, when they return home they don’t feel the need to “study”:  They solve all the exercises and problems in the chapter from the beginning to the end, in succession, no picking and choosing alternative of what problem is easy or difficult.  This system of studying generates a big bonus:  a vast repertoire of ready solved problems are memorized and consequently, the student is able to finish the exam quickly no matter how long and complicated is the test sheet

Third, they acquire a flexible mind to view problems from different perspectives.

Mathematicians acquire this trait from comprehending entirely different abstract constructs:  I think that the math process is somehow rigid, but it is the opportunity of learning new abstract concepts that invariably extend this feature, even if not totally conscious of its brain ramifications and building appropriate neuro-networks.

Expert mathematicians can understand the main problems in any other discipline, better than the semi-professionals in the field.  That is why, it is such a loss that math graduates do not pursue applied disciplines after graduation to enhancing the scientific base of any social sciences discipline.

I contend that the complex behavior of mankind and the varieties of his intelligence, especially in the “developed” western hemisphere, are the product of body poisoning from regurgitating unnatural food products in the last 5 centuries, and the dissemination of acquired violent streak due to the poisoning of their mind and feelings with experimental drugs and mental control techniques.

The advance of technology is the byproduct of a steam release valve process (a scapegoat), a reaction of the unbearable violent tendencies that drove people crazy.  Unfortunately, it is the military institutions that funded and managed most of these technologies:  They adapted and adopted technologies of mass destruction, global eavesdropping, mass media dissemination and control, and gathering spying intelligence such as industrial and scientific spying technologies, and preempting freedom movements by disturbing any kinds of democratic evolution and national development.

I contend that violent acts and vehement  incitement speeches in the media to violence will increase exponentially, unless serious research are done to courageously pinpoint the dangerous eating habits and curbing violent scenes disseminated to kids and adolescents in the web and movies.

A newer equilibrium to our physical and mental constitution must be investigated in order for more lenient and socially bearable kinds of violent tendencies can be managed and controlled.

It is unconscionable that the individual should be made to bear all the responsibilities for self-improvement and be blamed for not having the capacity to avoid violent reactions or learn to manage the flow of his rage and frustration.

Note 1: A chapter in “The element” by Ken Robinson discussed intelligence

Note 2: You might read the two related posts and

Low IQ Prisoner: Studied, raised the score, found eligible to death row! What is this IQ score?

The story goes: murderers with low IQ of 70 or less are not sent to death row on the premise that they are too dumb to premeditate or consciously plan any murder.

A low IQ prisoner was sentenced to life; he studied and managed to score 10 more points, and thus was eligible for death sentence to be executed: He was no longer an irresponsible brain dead individual!

IQ and SAT scores are used as scapegoats in many decisions, programs, and policies to hire, fire, accept or reject applicants.  Institutions that demand IQ or SAT scores know by now that they don’t measure intelligence and that these tests lack predictive values and capabilities for mental performance.

And yet, these tests are used “to pick the best of the crop” on the basis that the grades of students in their institution will inevitably be higher than most institutions no matter how mediocre is their curriculum or their teachers.  Standardized tests of these kinds are multi-billion businesses and encouraged by governments.

The first version of IQ test was created by the French Alfred Binet at the instigation of a government commission.  The purpose was to sorting out children in need of special attention and particular forms of schooling. Binet was appalled when his IQ test was adopted for quantifying intelligence, especially by the military during WWI for selecting pilots.  He wrote: “A few thinkers are affirming that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity that cannot be increased.  We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism; we must try to demonstrate that this conjecture is founded on nothing.”

The American eugenics Lewis Terman of Stanford University published a revised version of the Binet test in 1916 and known as the Stanford-Binet test.  What was the ideology of Terman?

He wrote: “Among laboring men and servant girls thousands are feeble-minded.  They are the world hewers of wood and drawers of water…No amount of school instruction will ever make them intelligent voters.  The fact that one meets this type with such frequency among Indians, Mexicans, and negroes suggest quite forcibly the whole question of racial differences in mental traits will have to be taken up anew and by experimental methods.  From a eugenics point of view, their children constitute a grave problem because of their prolific breeding.”

A eugenic individual believes that:

1. mankind is divided into intelligent races and stupid subcategories that only practical instruction might improve their efficiency on the chain production, and

2. second, that intelligence is an innate trait with fixed level for improvement, and third that ethnic minorities with dishonorable IQ scores should be neutered by law…

The military institutions are the ones that initiate and fund such standardized tests for the purpose of classifying applicant officers to the air force, navy, or artillery schools; the barely “intelligent” potential officers are relegated to infantry.

For example, Carl Brigham, another eugenic, invented the SAT at the instigation of the military 7 decades ago.The irony is that Carl Brigham disowned the test 5 years later and was no longer a believer in eugenics; but the SAT test evolved a life of its own and it is at its 5th version.

The elite universities and private schools demand some kind of standardized tests of “intelligence”.

John Katzman, founder of Princeton Review, wrote: “SAT creates a shadow curriculum that does not further the goals of education or students:  SAT scores are irrelevant to what the student studied in high school.  SAT does not measure intelligence or verify high school GPA, and it is a poor predictor of college grades.”

In my PhD experiment, I made use of one of the IQ test versions as a smokescreen to distracting the first year psychology students from the real purpose of the experiment.  All you have to do is mention that the test evaluate their level of intelligence in order to capture their motivation.  Actually, the test could be relevant with people endowed with visual capability for discriminating shapes and a modicum of logic.

There is this test developed by two women, mother and daughter and not specialist in psychology, called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) that supposedly box an individual into one of 16 psychological categories on the dimensions of (energy attitude, perception, judgement, orientation to life events) and on social behavior such as extrovert or introvert.

It is valid and I did submit to it voluntarily (you may read about my experience in my autobiography chapter on psychological testing).  I answered hundred of questions for over two hours; I had to give an answer to every question, even if  I had no idea what it meant.   The result was that I was borderline in all psychological categories and the graduate psychology student had no interpretation and referred me to attend sessions with very emotionally disturbed students.

What about the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) test?

Supposedly, this “cognitive” assessment test will demonstrate what is dominant in your brain such as the left analytic brain, the left lymbic hemisphere, the right brain and the right lymbic hemisphere).  The left brain is for collecting data, how things work…, the right lymbic is for organizing and following directions…The right brain is for looking at the big picture and understanding metaphor… The right limbic is for expressing ideas and seeking personal meaning…

In short, all these tests implicitly encourage eugenics ideologists and these tests are being disseminated and applied worldwide, setting the stage for further attempts to laws that would institute racial elimination as world population grows to 9 billion within 30 years.

Note:  A chapter in “The element” by Ken Robinson made it easier for me to write this post.

I had posted some time ago and then I stumbled on a chapter in “Element” by Ken Robinson related to educating children in school systems.  My post focused on new ways the family might adopt in order to permitting more opportunities and exposure for the child to discovering his talents, skills, passions, and constructing his own model for viewing the world.  Since schooling is a system and can be more potent than family setting in this modern busy world for enhancing a child development then, selecting varieties of schooling system models that offer environment for child mental development is most important to emulate.

The industrial age configurations and processes of passing students through the education chain of production line is transforming curriculum to static and lifeless programs:  Students are viewed as “subjects” and are not considered as the center of attention that teachers and school management have responsibilities for graduating literate and talented students.

In the last three decades, there is this dangerous trend of standardizing knowledge, information and “intelligence” to be imposed directly worldwide to all school and university system. Cram schools for passing SAT and entrance exams at universities, or even for “prestigious elementary schools” as in Japan are multibillion industries so that a few may access privileged schooling institutions.

In the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) federal programs that Obama resumed from Bush Junior, 70% of school districts have cut back on arts programs; teachers are pressured to cut back on teaching courses in order to focus on preparing for upcoming statewide standardized tests.  Consequently, if standard tests results are low then, failing schools are penalized:  Teachers are terminated and schools are closed to be taken over by private organization.

Schools need to be transformed so that teachers re-capture their status as the most valued assets in any social development.  Encouraging arts programs is the catalyst for opening up the creative skills and talents in students, exciting their urge for participating and learning.  For example, engaging in drama courses and the responsibly of mounting the theater with all its requirements and needed skills unleash the capability and enthusiasm of the students.  Students turn out to be more involved and excel in the other coursework of math, sciences, and writing skills.

In the Reggio Emilia school model, the program has a child-directed curriculum:  Teachers take their lessons where the student interests dictate.  Classrooms are filled with drama play areas, work tables, environments for interactions and communication.  The emphasis is on arts:  Children learn “multiple symbolic languages” such as painting, music, drama, math, experimentation… The teachers are researchers for the children, they explore their interests, and learn alongside the pupils.

Another example; in the town of Grangeton, the children run the town:  They work in the bank, the supermarket, they handle cash registers, they manage the museum, they write original film screenplay, they run the TV shows and the music of the radio station.  The key word according to director Richard Gerver is: “Experimental and contextual.  At no stage the message is of passing an exam.”  The rigorous classroom work boils down to practical applications of course materials.

Children are motivated and committed and they play the role of catalyst for families and communities to getting involved in project development.  The bottom line is that students need opportunities, exposure, and involvement in curriculum in order to discovering skills, talents, and life passions.  The transformation needs to becoming Student-Centered and the teachers highly valued in remuneration and independence as the cornerstone for successful school performance.

Note:  I consider this article as complementary to my post  since we need to improve systems that are more powerful than any individual family actions or programs.

It appears that old terms for social organization are considered exotic enough to be used in order to effectively disseminate new concepts; as if languages are too poor to creating new words for an evolving civilization, or maybe it is a sarcastic metaphor to mean that our social organization and social behaviors did not improve after hundred of centuries.  One of these most commonly adopted words is “tribe” to describing a collection of people with same shared passions and interests, intellectually or professionally.

We know that there are syndicates, associations, organizations (profit and for non-profit), collectivity, cooperative, community, gang, cartel, commission, political parties, “circle of friends”, sects, cult, castes, clans, classes of people (privileged, poor, elite…), club, strata, close-knit group, regiment, brigade, division, army, squadron, brotherhood, sisterhood… But why selecting “tribe” among all these social terminologies for gathering in organized units? 

Is nomadic life-style back in favor?  Sort of back to nature and retaliations and vendetta customs?  Why chose a term that carries heavy bad connotation of violence and prehistoric traditions?  Such as raiding another tribe, massacring all male members and saving only the virgin girls so that to secure no retribution in kind will happen in forms of vendetta, decades later, or even centuries later!  Obviously, before ransaking all their chattels and domesticated animals for the survival of the famished and unfit mentally.

For example, what is common among Meg Ryan, Debbie Allen, Brian Ray, Hellen Pilcher, Don Lipski, Matt Groening, Ewa Laurance, and Black Ice?  Ken Robinson in his “Element” would like us to believe that they all found their own tribes:  Each one of them, finally, felt part in their new career domain “tribal members in the field” and hit it well with the “field” colleagues.  They discovered that the tribe members validated their passions, passions they share in the tribe, they talked shop, bounced ideas around, shared and compared techniques, indulging enthusiasms or hostilities for the same things.  They were finally convinced that what they were doing mattered and was worth doing.

Is that how tribe members behaved in prehistory?

Working with your tribe, you receive inspiration and provocations to raising the bar on achievements.  For example, William Choukeir borrowed the term “tribe” in his blog to refer to “high-energy” gathering of people who join in demanding physical activities and converse on topic of  high quality intellectual level (no argumentations permitted for degrading the discussions).  This process within the tribe is targeted to recharging in energy.

Many professionals in math, sciences…poets, painters, athletes… might prefer to work alone; fact is, they are interacting frequently within their close-knit associations:  They publish and interchange ideas and comments:  They stand on the shoulders of previous giants in the profession.  Otherwise, no challenging problems are resolved.  Freeman Dyson says: “Up to a point, you welcome being interrupted because it is only by interchanging ideas with other people who you get anything of interest done.  When I write I close the door; but when I’m doing science I leave the door open.”

Why using this cute term “tribe”?  Tribes were constituted of population over 150 members; consequently, tribes were split naturally to smaller units or clans for adequate communication among the members and remembering names and the family history of each member.  If the name “team” is too common or unit is inapropriate then, how about Tfield, meaning Terrific members (in a particular field of specialty), or Punit for pulsating unit, or RKeam for reversed karma team?




March 2023

Blog Stats

  • 1,518,768 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 764 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: