Q&A: Junior Cameron Mastoras gives TED Talk inspired by sophomore speech

Photo+courtesy+of+Lara+Metcalf.

Photo courtesy of Lara Metcalf.

Maya Waldman

Photo courtesy of Lara Metcalf.
Photo courtesy of Lara Metcalf.

Junior Cameron Mastoras recently had the chance to speak publicly at a TEDX event in Brookline this fall. As one of the few teens present, he described the importance of learning through experience and the ways that this can be done, a topic inspired by his sophomore speech Saturday Nov. 18 and Sunday Nov. 19.
Q: What was your talk about?
A: My talk was primarily about how in the education system, we don’t get enough of learning by experience, which I think is pretty valuable. It was also about how if we use that more, then we can have kids learning better.
Q: What inspired you to talk about education?
A: I think it started probably with the sophomore speech, actually. It got me thinking a lot about what our education system actually teaches, philosophy-wise. Then kind of continuing throughout the rest of my sophomore year and junior year, I’ve just been thinking a lot about our education. I’ve written a lot of essays for classes about education, so I feel like the talk is somewhat of an accumulation of probably about a year and a half’s worth of work.
Q: How did you apply to speak at the event?
A: I knew the guy vaguely; he’s a friend of my mom. I heard her mention that he runs this event, which I had actually gone to a couple of times in the past, and I had been having these ideas about our education, and I was like, ‘Wait, I wonder if I contacted him, if he would let me talk.’ So I emailed him, and he told me that there is a youth section on Saturday morning, and that they’d love to have me talk. Probably back in June, I already knew that I was talking at the event.
Q: How was the experience of talking at the event?
A: Overall, it was pretty nerve-wracking for the most part. But then once I was actually doing it, I loved it. The entire time leading up to it, I was super nervous, because there’s always that worry that you’re not going to do well, but once I got up on stage, I felt really comfortable and I was able to have some fun with it. I feel pretty good about how it went.
Q: What is the difference between a regular TED Event and a TEDX event?
A: So it’s not the main thing; there’s a TED Event which is usually very big, but this is more of a locally-organized thing. They use the TED name, but the event is run by people in the community. This one was run by a guy who lives in Brookline.
Q: How would you describe the event?
A: The event was at the Lincoln School. It’s a middle school in Brookline. They have this really nice theater that probably seats about 200 people or so. In the rest of the school, there are people with demonstrations, things you can play with, and all different sorts of cool EXPO type stuff, and basically that was the event. There was a lot of really cool stuff to do, which was what really made the event.
Q: Did you get the chance to meet others that spoke at the event?
A: Yeah, definitely. There were tons of cool people there, all of them were very knowledgeable and interesting to talk to. The people were all very smart, very intelligent.
Q: What was the writing process for writing your talk?
A: It was kind of tough, actually, because at certain points I struggled with having too much to say, and having to narrow that idea down to a smaller idea. Then at other points, I questioned myself, and I wondered if people really wanted to hear what I had to say. So the writing process was difficult, and I re-wrote it so many times before I wrote what I settled on when I gave it. But the organization actually provided me with a coach, to help me through the later stages of writing, which really helped.