Thursday, September 20, 2018

S11E3 Is Education Killing Creativity?

Many TED talks have gone viral, but the most popular by far (with over 53 million views) has been Sir Ken Robinson's talk on on how schools kill creativity. This week, we'll be listening to his talk and considering the questions "what is our school trying to build us to be?" and "should our school be encouraging more creativity?"

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources and a New York Times Best selling author. He works with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK Government. You can learn more about his efforts at his website, here.

Please use this link to submit questions/observations for Forum by 5pm Tuesday.


  • Helen E. Buckley penned this poem about how a school can kill or nurture creativity in 1961.
  • A list of seven "creativity killers" appears at this site. Consider how these factors play out at Trinity or things you've seen here that avoid these killers. 
  • Not everyone agrees with Sir Ken. Critics point out that schools often do a poor job of graduating students with a knowledge of core subjects and a focus on creativity will only make things worse. Read their opinion as published in USA Today here.
  • A North Carolina teacher who was our state's Teacher of the Year in 2006 is sympathetic to Sir Ken's call, but notes how current demands by the school system makes his suggestions impossible to implement. Read his explanation here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

S11E2 -- "Where Are All The Aliens?"

In the 1950s, Physicist Enrico Fermi and several colleagues were having lunch at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (where the original work on atomic energy was done) when they got into a discussion about the possibility of alien life.  Fermi did a quick analysis of the number of stars in the galaxy, how many probably had planets that could support life, and how many of those could have developed intelligent life equal or greater than our own, and he concluded that it was likely that we were surrounded by other intelligent species. He then posed his famous paradox "if there are so many aliens, how come we've never heard from anybody?"

Our forum this week will look at this question. 


Note: For those who are new to forum, we often direct you to resources written by people with an other-than-Christian worldview.  You should not assume these links are an endorsement of their views; but they are views you will probably encounter with others many times in life. 
  • While Fermi went back to nuclear physics after posing his paradox, many others have made this question their life's work.  Astronomer Frank Drake formalized Ferni's estimate into what is known as The Drake Equation.  Read about this equation and change the assumptions to arrive at your own estimate here.  WRITE DOWN YOUR ESTIMATE SO YOU CAN INCLUDE IT AS PART OF YOUR ASSIGNMENT.
  • The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was a government-funded project for some time, but more recently is privately funded as the SETI Institute.  Read about why they believe they will find extraterrestrial intelligence here.
  • Robin Hanson wrote an essay titled The Great Filter that argues that the lack of any sign of extraterrestrial life is an indication that all civilizations (including ours) collapse before they advance enough to communicate with each other. You can read it here.  Note: The article is long and challenging. 
  • From a Christian Perspective, some argue that a biblical world view does not allow the possibility of alien life.  Their arguments can be found here.
  • Not all Christians take this view, however.   The famous evangelist Billy Graham explained his reasons for believing in alien life in his book Angels.  A link to the book isn't available, but here are some quotes
  • The greatest Christian Apologist of the 20th century, C.S. Lewis, wrote an essay reconciling Christianity with the possibility of alien life.  A summary of his thoughts can be found here
  • Finally, many people are surprised to learn that The Vatican has an astronomical research department called The Vatican Observatory.  The Vatican's chief astronomer recently published an article called The Alien, My Brother that explains why the Vatican believes astronomy is an important science for theological pursuits, and how Catholics should consider the question of extraterrestrial life. Read it here.  

Use this link to take a brief survey on the topic and to submit three questions or thoughts on the topic.  You have until midnight on Monday September 10th to do so. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

S11E1 -- Meet Dr. Bridges

Not only is Trinity welcoming its largest group of new incoming students ever, but it's also welcoming a new head master.  At forum this week you'll hear from Dr. Bridges and learn more about what he likes, what he did before becoming our headmaster, and what are some of his dreams for our school and community.  You'll also get the chance to ask him questions.

Use This Link to submit some questions you'd like to ask Dr. Bridges and to make some guesses about him that could earn you a valuable prize!  Submissions must be made by 10pm Monday night!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

S10E15 Is the world getting better?

For the last forum of this year, we're asking if the world is becoming a better place or a worse place.

Recent surveys reported that Millennials were the first generation to expect to be worse off than their parents and people often argue whether the world is getting better or worse.  This week we'll look at the topic and some of the statistics that may speak to the question. We'll start by listening to a talk by Steven Pinker on the Enlightenment.

Assignment:  Please use the link provided here to answer the following questions by 6PM Tuesday:

1) What are three ways you would use to measure if the world was getting better or worse?
2) What's one way you think we are getting better?
3) What's one way you think we are getting worse?

See you on Wednesday!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Follow up to Forum on Universal Basic Income

Finland ended it's experiment with Universal Basic Income this week as reported in the NY Times.

They haven't released the data from their efforts yet, so its hard to tell if the decision was political or driven by how the program was working.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Materials from What Happened at TED

Here is my slide deck from my TED recap forum. It contains my descriptions of each talk.

What Happened at TED 2018.

Many people asked me about the video I ran at the start of forum.  It was one TED played before a session. Here's the link.

Monday, April 23, 2018

S10E14 What Happened at TED 2018

This week will by my annual recap of what happened at this year's TED conference. I will be covering at least 83 different topics in 45 minutes! There's really no way to prepare for this...  just make sure you have a pen and paper to note a few things I mention that you'll want to research more or talk about in Dialog.  See you then!

"How do you define personhood and what makes mankind as a species special?"

"What is the role of faith in politics?"

"How can I tell if I'm being truly objective?"

"How much should we trust the science of evolution or global warming?"

These are the kinds of questions that young adults will wrestle with as they try to understand their place in the world. Trinity Academy of Raleigh explores these and similar questions in The Trinity Academy Forum -- a bi-weekly speaker series and dialog for 9th - 12th grade students.

The class seeks to foster Socratic dialog and critical thinking skills by presenting students with thought-provoking and often controversial subjects. When possible, these subjects are presented live by expert guest speakers, but sometimes they may use a video presentation from sources like TED.

The Forums take place on Wednesday mornings. Students from grade 9 through 12 attend the forum. Parents are also invited to attend the forum. Other guests who would like to observe a forum will usually be welcome, but should contact the school for permission.

Parents should note that, because the forum is intended to foster dialog and critical thinking, it may often deal with subjects and viewpoints that may fall outside of (or even be contrary to) a Christian worldview. The views and opinions expressed by speakers and moderators in the forum class are not necessarily those of Trinity Academy or its leadership, but representative of views our students are likely to encounter after they graduate. We believe exposure to these subjects is important to better prepare our students for college and life.