Eric Mazur: confessions of a converted lecturer
Storytelling, POV, & the power of first-person narrative

A great story: curiosity & creativity inspire child inventor

Kenya—storyHere's a great short presentation which tells a wonderful story about a child in a challenging situation who applies creativity to engineer a smart solution to overcome a big problem. The presentation by 13-year-old Kenyan Richard Turere was delivered last month at TED in Long Beach. TED discovered Richard's story during its worldwide talent search last year in Kenya. (See Richard's interview with Chris Anderson and a short film about his story from last year). Richard's story was remarkable and he impressed the TED staff, but last year he was not yet ready to give a TED talk on his own. "At that point he lacked the confidence to give an actual talk," Chris Anderson commented on the TED website. "It was just an interview, though he still lit up the theater. His progress in the 10 months since then has been exciting to see. His teachers and friends at Brookhouse School, where he won a scholarship as a result of this invention, can be really proud of him. He's an amazing example of what a kid with curiosity can achieve." 

Standing alone on a stage in front of a large room of strangers and telling your story—let alone doing so at age 13 in a foreign country—is one of the most frightening things you can do. But Richard Turere did a great job. His story was simple and clear and the visuals helped amplify the story for the audience and also served to keep him on track without notes. His narrative had a simple exposition with nothing superfluous, a clear conflict or problem to be solved, an account of things that did not work, things which were unexpected, and a clear conclusion. It was a story of how curiosity and an innovative spirit can inspire someone—even someone so young—to use his creativity to solve a big problem. We see transformation in the outer world in the form of the threat to the family's livelihood being removed in a harmonious way, and in the fact that his inspiring ingenuity lead to a scholarship. We also see transformation in the inner world in that Richard has stopped hating lions and the accomplishment also surely gave him even more confidence to pursue his dreams. As Richard says, "one year ago, I was just a boy in the savanna grassland herding my father's cows, and I used to see planes flying over, and I told myself that one day, I'll be there inside. And here I am today. I got a chance to come by plane for my first time for TED." That's a story of transformation. And his journey is just getting started...


The comments to this entry are closed.