I’m 17 | Kate Simonds | TEDxBoise


Translator: Sarah Braun
Reviewer: Denise RQ Hi everyone. My name is Kate Simonds, and I’m 17. Upon hearing me say this or seeing
the title of this talk, “I’m 17”, I’m sure you’re thinking: since she’s on the stage, she must have done something incredible
that she can teach me about. Maybe she– I don’t know, what did
she do to deserve a TED talk? Did she accidentally make millions from investing in a successful
startup company at age 15? Maybe she cured some disease
accidentally while interning in a lab or maybe she received a perfect score
on her SATs at the age of 7. Did I do any of those things? No. I haven’t done any
of these things unfortunately so here’s the reason
why I’m talking today: When I took this stage, you all assumed
that I’m some child genius or some accredited creator because I’m 17. I must have done something
worthy of your attention. Yet, the only qualification to being
a TED speaker is to have an idea. An idea you think is worth spreading. And that’s the problem. Because I’m 17 and I’m on this stage, you’re only respecting me
because I’m on this stage. Maybe it’s because you like
my extremely high heels but I don’t think that’s the reason
why I should have your respect. I don’t think that I should have
to be a high school millionaire or to have cured an epidemic
to be worth listening to. I think that any idea should be respected
no matter the age of who it comes from. My voice has been disrespected
what seems like hundreds of times. I’ve been told by adults
that I’m not ready to vote even though I keep up with politics,
and I’m sure of my beliefs. I’ve been told to stop
fighting for equality because I have a little voice,
and it won’t fix anything. The difference is, no one
would say those things to an adult. Any adult that fights
for a cause like that would be deemed
a courageous and dedicated hero but because I’m 17,
I’m naïve and ignorant. I have years of experience of my voice
not mattering and not being respected. I’m even told, according to
a Life Science article from 2008, that because I’m a teenager,
I can’t experience empathy which is defined as the ability to understand and share
the feelings of an other. Now, without any quantifiable data
or scientific evidence I can prove that article wrong. Here’s how. I did it about a minute ago when I understood the assumptions
you made when I took this stage. With empathy because I can relate to you, I understand your hesitations
to my qualifications because when I was picked
for this TED talk, I wondered the same thing. I’m just a 17 year old, what do I know? What can I teach you about? But by this time,
I hope I’ve gained your respect. I say “gained” because unlike the other
speakers, I didn’t have it initially. There was an inherent paradigm of doubt. This surrounds all students. The reason I’m so passionate
about this is because of my work with a local non-profit organization
which is called One Stone. One Stone is a student-run,
official 501(c) non-profit, and after joining
as a sophomore in high school, I learnt how to create a budget,
to run an interview, how to speak in front
of large groups like this one and most importantly,
how to problem solve. Surrounded by high school students, no one ever questioned
the validity of my thoughts. Let me tell you, we’ve got stuff done. But things would change
the second I’d leave the building. I’d try talking to an adult about
something I’d be working on, my research or a project, and they
would ask me, “What do you know?” All teens are asked this, “What do
you know? How could you know this? You’re only a teenager.” We are asked this when we talk about
politics, education, even with what we want
to do with our lives because we’re “Too young to understand.” Just because we have
vertical driver’s licenses and you all have
horizontal driver’s licenses, apparently, we don’t know what love is. We can’t know
what we should or shouldn’t believe, we don’t get to talk
about education or politics because we don’t live in the “real world”. We actually do not get
to speak for ourselves. At this point, you may have noticed
that I’m not using slides. Part of the reason why
is that I don’t really need them but to be honest with you, the real reason
why is that this is a really unique chance for a student like me
to have your attention, so I’m going to strategically direct
100 % of it to myself. (Laughter) This problem is bigger than it sounds. From my contrasting
experiences at One Stone and with the help
of the amazing teachers I’ve had, I’ve become fully aware of the constant
belittling that occurs to student voices. This problem is big. Look at our education system;
as students, we have no say in what we learn or how we learn it,
yet we’re expected to absorb it all, take it all in, and be able
to run the world someday. We’re expected to raise our hands
to use the restroom, then 3 months later be ready to go to college
or have a full time job, support ourselves and live on our own. It’s not logical. My mum is an elementary school teacher. I always hear her and her colleagues
talking about how kindergarteners, when asked a question, are thrilled
to be raising their hands, all of them. Yet, as you increase the grade level, fewer and fewer hands
are raised each year. Now, in my senior classes in high school,
it’s common that, when asked a question, no one raises their hand, and the teacher
has to call out names from a roster. I think this is because A, students
aren’t confident in their own answers, B, students have been made fun of
for answering too many questions correctly or C, the students aren’t listening. Maybe they’re texting in their lap or most likely,
just extremely disinterested. These are all three really big problems. Students have lost sight
of their education’s value and have therefore stopped learning. Because we’re told,
“You don’t get it, you’re 17. You don’t deserve to have
the control over what you learn.” This statement and this mindset are toxic. It’s gotten to the point where we’ve begun
to stop listening to ourselves. Sometimes, I catch myself on a wild
train of thought and stop myself thinking, “Self, stop thinking about this. You’re only 17, you don’t know
anything about psychology. What are you doing? Stop!” This is me, someone who totally believes
in the validation of everyone’s ideas and is doing a TED Talk
on the validation of everyone’s ideas, discrediting my own because my thoughts
don’t come from an adult mind. Last spring, my friend and I
started a club. Both of us are very outspoken,
and we saw this as an opportunity to make a difference in our school. We anticipated it might take some work
to convince the adults of our mission but we didn’t realize that the real challenge would be
convincing our classmates that they could make a change as students. When we tried to stand up for something, they criticized us, they made fun of us
for standing up for our beliefs. That’s really, really bad. Students question the validity
of their own thoughts because they don’t come from adult minds, yet what really separates adults
and teenagers intellectually? Is it an age? Do we wake up on our 21st birthdays
with everlasting knowledge? Do we turn 18 and suddenly
have ideas that are worth listening to? Also, this magical age of adulthood is
different in countries all over the world. It hasn’t seemed to work
so far, so who’s right? Or maybe it’s from attaining a level
of maturity which can come at any age but I know a lot of high schoolers
and college students that are more mature
than some adults I know. So that’s not logical either. I think that it doesn’t come
with age or experiential maturity. There’s a definite biological
difference between the two but it comes instead
with brain conformity. Researchers at Stanford
tested this a while back. They looked at neurosignalling
differences in the two ages between adolescence and adults
to see how brains were networked. They ended up finding out
adult pathways were much more constant as if mapped than the younger subjects whose pathways were more scattered
or spontaneous or, dare I say, creative. It’s no secret that society
has a lot of problems that we just can’t quite seem to solve. The adults behind them have
conditioned attempts at solving them which is why we haven’t made any progress. In my government class, my teacher
has a really sarcastic poster that says, “If you think our problems are bad,
just wait until you see our solutions”. (Laughter) Maybe this problem is that we’re not
thinking about these solutions creatively. Teens are criticized all the time
for having rambunctiously inventive ideas. But instead of making fun
of these teenagers, maybe the problem is
that we should be harnessing these ideas, we should be tapping into
these spontaneous brain pathways and using them to solve these problems. This is my idea worth spreading: a world of creative collaboration
between adults and students. It’s a world where adults listen
and respect student ideas, and a world where students respect
and listen to their own ideas. The education system;
it will improve dramatically, students will care about learning because they know
that their education matters. In the current status quo, once you’re educated past a certain point
you’ve learned all about failure. We’re teaching our students right now to lose belief in possible
change or perfection. In other words, we’re teaching them to stop thinking outside the box
and to accept adequacy. We’re teaching them to conform
to standards and to lose their creativity. But before this happens, students
don’t think of logistics or limitations, they’re fearless. Think of the kindergarteners;
if we could harness this excited energy before they lose it and foster it
throughout their entire education, think of the creative ideas
that could come of it. Possibly even more so,
government could improve. Once students know
that their voices matter, they’ll feel obligated to participate. They’ll feel responsible
for where policies are headed. With improved efficacy
comes progress across the board. I’m not suggesting to extend
suffrage to 5 year olds. But I do think that we should
encourage our 18 year olds to vote, not discourage them,
that so happens frequently. Ask us about social security,
ask us about environmental destruction, ask us about anything. Let us know that we matter because we do. It’s true that not all of us
will understand these policies right away. Just because we’re teenagers doesn’t mean
that we don’t understand politics and similarly, just because you’re
an adult, doesn’t mean that you do. When you tell us that our votes
don’t matter, that we’re not ready, you lose, too. Fewer and fewer people
are voting each year, that’s a fact. And a loss of votes, to be dramatic,
is a loss of democracy. If you’re not old enough, if you’re 17
like me, 16, 15, 13, you still matter, too even though you can’t legally vote,
and you aren’t in college yet. You are still valuable to society. OK, if anyone has fallen
asleep or something or if you have found me
completely disinteresting, wake up, and listen to me now. Students, we’ve been respectfully asking
for student voice for years. We’ve sat on representative seats
at board meetings, and we’ve protested standardized testing,
but it hasn’t been enough. Look where we are. We need to stop asking,
and we need to start demanding. More than student councils
and board meetings, and clubs, and representative seats. We deserve to be trusted with more
than setting up our parents’ iPads. (Laughter) Our ideas matter. But, unfortunately this will only work
if it’s a collaboration. Adults, I’m asking you to work with us. Give us your respect, hold us accountable. I’m not asking for blind faith,
I’m asking for you to let us prove it. You hold me accountable for my education. I can hold you accountable too. Environmental destruction, national debt,
unjust policies, social inequalities, the list goes on and on. We need to hold each other accountable
for any progress to be made, and I promise you it will. I’m 17. I haven’t won a Nobel Peace Prize,
I haven’t solved inequality, I haven’t solved poverty,
I haven’t done any of the cool things that I’ve mentioned earlier. But the difference is, I know that I can. Teens, you need to believe in your voices,
and adults, you need to listen. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “I’m 17 | Kate Simonds | TEDxBoise

  1. I dont agree. I wont give the same respect for a 14 yo high schooler and a 60 yo university graduated scientist.

  2. Honestly school actively discouraged me from watching to learn things in my own time. I forgot how easy learning is when you want to

  3. I’m 17 years old. I will change the world.And you too.
    Belief is half of success.Don’t give up:)

  4. Just because you are young,doesn’t mean you are not allowed to speak your ideas like a human.

  5. I'm 18 and choosing which university I Wanna enter
    Also, I'm in a Band, and in the city I live, we're already known as the best Band of teens now. Unfortulately, I have to choose where do I Wanna work and, possibly, throw out this project with my boys. This whole Thing, during school's Free time, because It didn't support us in any ways!!

  6. I really like her , she seems so smart and wholesome, i never really feel like that but i would love to be her friends

  7. Dude if she doesnt shut Up about how no one listens to her And starts actually telling me something
    Then im gonna be real mad

  8. Okay im not gonna lie
    She had my respect at first i was listening then she told that bullcrap about how i thinked things that i didnt for 3 minutes without even thinking she could have been wrong And then she wants me to listen to her more if you had something you should have tolded It now you Lost my attention

  9. Something about you and what you said made me super emotional… Thank you for this talk

  10. Being a teen is hard because you know that you want to help change the world for the best but everyone says you are to little and should wait till your oooolder

  11. I’m 17 I think it’s upsetting that some people don’t take me seriously when I talk about aerospace engineering and aviation ect it’s ridiculous

  12. It’s funny cause it’s true 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

  13. Im sorry but her voice hurts like literally hurts I dont know why but I feel sorry for her lol

  14. A 25 years old man in USA : lives in his parents house
    A 15 years old boy in Morocco : saving money and working and getting ready to be kicked out of his house by his father

  15. The number of times I've gained respect and then lost it the moment people found out I was 14 is absolutely heartbreaking. One minute I have the attention of the room, the next people outwardly insult me.

  16. In elementary school, I was seen as the smart kid. I was happy to learn and was eager to answer the questions my teachers asked.
    Any time I answered a question incorrectly, I was made fun of. I slowly began to stop raising my hand when the teacher asked a question, until <to this day> I don't voluntarily answer any questions my teachers ask anymore. Even if I'm completely sure that my answer is right.
    I've lost the motivation to learn. The only thing that can keep my attention is art, and even that is hard sometimes because I feel like I constantly need to prove myself and if I don't, people will ridicule me like they have always done.

  17. Showed this to my dad, he said “ShE’s OnLy SeVenTeeN, ShE doEsn’t KnOw AnYthing”

  18. Why do people act like people at certain ages are completely different entities when they have all experienced the same thing

  19. now: fridays for future are on the rise. adults tell them "what do you know"… no one gives a ** about these kids.

  20. I am sixteen years old. I want to look like you. You speak we problem. You are brave and i thanks. We are together exterminate problem. And i am a Turkish. I am a sixteen years old. But this iş not problem. We will do!

  21. This is so true especially the point where she mentioned students of KG are overwhelmingly enthusiastic and teens are just validating their own thoughts!

  22. I'm 21 IQ and commit myself to learn algebra. Beat that prodigies in this youtube section!

  23. I'm 15 and I love psychology, politics, and philosophy, I find it annoying when I get asked how did you know about all of that. Like I'm so special, like I'm so unique. And I also get told I am smart by other students in a way that says, I could never be like that. It's a shame not enough people are aware of this problem.

  24. IDK, I'm pretty sure I completely lack respect for countless hundreds of thousands of adults.

    There goes that theory

  25. ohh no here comes the “im _ _ and i— “comments SHU T UPPP PLEASEEE!!! NO ONE CARES HOW OLD YOU AREEEE!

  26. Isn't it nice that most teens hv ideas or wtv? Well this 16 yr old doesn't. No ambitions or anything. I'm just a depressed little bean
    Everyone in the comment section is so smart
    I guess I'm the minority of teens than

  27. “I’ve been told to stop fighting for equality” yeah um some people already did that. That’s kind of over now, at least in America.

  28. Adults can't know whether or not a teenager plays fortnite or not, that's why adults don't know if to trust teens or not…

    🤣

  29. “Teenager” is an invention of the west. Let’s start putting 12 year olds to work again

  30. I don't know how many realize this, but what this girl said is really important.

  31. 2015: nah
    2016: lol no
    2017: nope
    2018: no
    2019: lets recommend it

  32. She kept saying that she didn’t have respect but I bet everyone in that room was respecting her and listening and she keeps bringing up people who say your just a kid but I bet that there are actually very few people that say that she is to young and doesn’t matter.

  33. I want to make a last longing relationship with you😍 and then together we talk about environment destruction, national debt etc.

  34. I didn't assume that you were a genius upon hearing your age, on the contrary, I figured you must have something incredible delusional to tell the audience right from the get go.
    "I have YEARS of experience of being ignored" oh come on girl, stop being delusional and realise that most of us humans have experienced this in one way or another. It's not some kind of race where you got first place. You are not entitled to claim that you are an EXPERT on this sociological field by just your own mere childhood experiences.
    It's beyond me how a 17 year old thinks she's got it all figured out and then goes ahead to preach this to adults and they just sit there eating it all up.
    Incase you didn't know already, your true perception of how the world works, and your realization of why we think what we think and do what we do, is something most people acquire once they leave their teenage years (and some never do).

    Come back to ted in 10 years, im sure you'll have something interesting to tell us then.

    You sound like the rest of the massive sheep herds, just following the noise of the uneducated.

  35. Mexico : Humans Exploited, Killed, Trafficked, kids separated From Families and Exploited, no food or home.
    No one: "…."
    USA : "We should respect kids"

  36. Im glad to find out there are also many teeanagers out there who are struggling just like me. But the question is what should we do to solve this?

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