Create and share a new lesson based on this one.

About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Kelly Wall
  • Script Editor Mia Nacamulli
  • Director Tomás Pichardo-Espaillat
  • Animator Tomás Pichardo-Espaillat
  • Composer Cem Misirlioglu
  • Narrator Julianna Zarzycki


Additional Resources for you to Explore
Studying graffiti can allow you to become conscious of what it means to make your mark over time. Graffiti as an art form presents an unusual historical domain because we are left with questions about who made the mark, how and why? Graffiti is unlike the typical primary and secondary sources used by historians because authorship, messages and audience are less known to the reader -- we, as historians, have to reconstruct those moments. This kind of historical reconstruction presents an interesting space for us to understand how and for whom historical knowledge is constructed, thus enhancing a focus on historical consciousness and how knowledge becomes 'known' to others. Graffiti presents a view of past from the perspective of rare and lesser known, every day people. To learn more about graffiti in ancient Rome you can click here.

In more contemporary contexts, like in Egypt and Turkey, graffiti tells us about how public spaces are used to express messages during times of dissent and revolution. For example, graffiti about the Arab Spring showed us what occurs when individual and collective voices do not match the forces of authority. In these cases, graffiti memorializes the voices of individuals who resist censorship and persist to have their memories shared publicly, even if the act of graffiti poses a risk to their own health or safety. You can learn more about graffiti and the Egyptian Arab Spring here. This kind of attempt to be 'heard' and remembered urges us to consider what is just or ethical and what further actions might be necessary to encourage historical consciousness more broadly. Art historian, Bahia Shehab discusses her fascination with street art during the Arab Spring here – her message is transformative. 

Graffiti helps us to uncover competing truth claims and to determine when that meaning can better inform a more holistic and collective understanding of the past. To learn more about claim testers and how students can assess competing truth claims you can click here. Ultimately, students learn to challenge the assumption that history is already written and just merely passed along to them. Instead it offers learners an opportunity to discover how and for whom history is remembered.