Chris Anthony discusses school struggles, positive role of skiing at upcoming TEDxVail | SummitDaily.com

Chris Anthony discusses school struggles, positive role of skiing at upcoming TEDxVail

John O’Neill
Special to the Daily

Chris Anthony wasn't good at school, but he was a good learner.

"I was a poor student. I could never do well in school no matter how hard I tried," Anthony said. "I got into college as an athlete. I was in all these special programs designed for students at the university of a probationary status.

"Maintaining a passing GPA was not easy for me. I could go study with a group for days, I would know just as much as they would. Test time, they would receive A's and I would squeak by with C or D's."

However, his struggle with the curriculum didn't impede his development as a person, or hinder his rise as one of the most notable names in skiing today through his role working with Warren Miller films for the past 26 years, amongst other accomplishments in the industry.

More than the four walls of a typical classroom, skiing and the experiences they brought are what Anthony believes to have been his best teacher. This type of learning, experiential learning, is the focus of his TEDx talk at TEDxVail on Friday, Jan. 8, at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek.

"Skiing gave me discipline, self-esteem and something to work for. It gave me a sense of purpose," Anthony said. "If I didn't have skiing, I would be a mess. I guarantee it. I would have believed this system of education was the only the way, and I would have just been out there trying to survive instead of thrive in my own way."

Recommended Stories For You

Sharing his journey

Anthony's journey is one he has decided is too important to keep to himself and has since started his own Youth Initiative Project, where his goal is to improve quality of life through introducing educational enrichment opportunities for youth.

Every year for the past 17 years, Anthony has visited various classrooms, speaking to more than 20,000 students about his experiences on the slopes. However, behind the clips of professional skiing and stories from visiting some of the most remote places on Earth are life and educational lessons being absorbed by the students. Anthony describes these as "teachable moments."

"If I show footage of skiing in Norway in the middle of the night, but it is light out, how do you explain that?" Anthony said. "Suddenly, we are talking about the sun and the tilt of the earth and the rotation of the planet. Suddenly, these things relate. They learn where Norway is. Or they might learn where Kazakhstan is as we dive into a culture of kids on the other side of the planet who are making their own ski equipment."

This type of learning breaks kids out of the classroom. This type of learning, Anthony believes, is the future of education. He also has seen how schools are becoming more and more interested in experiential learning as a model. For instance, when Anthony started doing school tours, he said the schools felt bothered by his talks — like they were an interruption to the regimented curriculum. Seventeen years later, his visits are in demand.

"I've seen this evolution in our schools," Anthony said. "More and more, teachers are seeing the value in putting their kids in front of a problem physically. This lets them work through it in a way that their brain can."

Anthony's TEDx talk, like his visits to the schools, features clips from his exploits with Warren Miller, and he discusses his personal experience alongside his professional experience with his youth initiatives to focus on how the world is changing the way it looks at educating students.

"We know that every kid is a little bit different," Anthony said. "We know that all these kids have the ability to solve problems and learn, but they need to be able to do it in their own way."

About TED and TEDx

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to ideas worth spreading, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or shorter) delivered by today's leading thinkers and doers. Many of these talks are given at TED's annual conference in Vancouver, British Columbia and made available for free on http://www.ted.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sal Khan and Daniel Kahneman.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks combine video and live speakers to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x indicates an independently organized TED event.

Follow TED on Twitter at twitter.com/tedtalks, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ted or Instagram at instagram.com/ted.

John O'Neill is the marketing director for the Vail Symposium.

If you go …

What: TEDxVail.

When: Registration begins at 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

Where: Vilar Performing Arts Center, 68 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek.

Cost: $100 preregistration or $125 at the door.

Speakers: Harley K. DuBois, Burning Man founder; Jimmy Lin, TED Fellow Genomics founder; Stephan A. Schwartz, change-making researcher and author; Amy Robinson, MIT Eyewire Crowdsourcing for science; Roger Holstein, CEO Healthgrades; Trista Sutter, Bachelorette and mom; Peyton Palermo, teen overcoming adversity; Shane Davis, data mapper; Dr. Lauren Bramley, health diagnostician; Amy Ben-Horin, co-founder of Ute Springs Experiential Learning Center; JP Canlis, glass artist; Chris Anthony, professional skier and Youth Initiative Project founder; and Dr. Ira Helfand, Physicians for Social Responsibility; and The Adaptable Mind, Tiffany Schlain Film.

More information: http://www.tedxvail.com.