Monday, March 26, 2012

Education Revolution

Education is something that we are all familiar with. We all walked into our kindergarten classrooms with book bags that were bigger than we were and continued for a seemingly extraordinary amount of time until we crossed the stage in our caps and gowns to receive our high school diplomas. The memories that come to mind about this time and experience are probably more similar than we realize. We all took the same tedious subjects and conquered similar, if not the same, standardized tests to get to where we are today. Should this be the way it is though? That everyone's experiences are so standard that we could mix them all up and no one could tell the difference?

According to Sir Ken Robinson, the answer is absolutely not. Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally-renowned expert in the field of creativity and innovation in business and education and according to him the educational system used across the world today is doing the children today a great injustice.

Robinson realizes that education is something that goes deep within people, it is what takes people to a future that we can not even being to picture. He also realizes that children have extraordinary potential that is being squandered in today's educational system and therefore also squandering the future.

He has made a revolutionary, and creative suggestion and is now promoting it around the globe. He feels that these "reforms" that many schools are undertaking today are just trying to adjust something that is broken beyond repair, and what he says we need is a transformation into something completely new for our educational system.

He suggestion is that the education system realizes creativity is as important as literacy. Kids need to not be told that the worse thing they can do. They need to not be afraid to be wrong like adults are. It is due to this that kids grow out of creativity into a mold that fits us into developing talents that are the most useful for work. The education system today all has the same hierarchy of subjects, math and science, humanities, and then arts due to their seeming correlation with success in the "real world." Robinson argues that this is not the case, however. Why shouldn't dance and drawing be just as important? What is being a dancer or being an artist also considered a job? This attitude in the schools needs to be changed because it is causing brillant, talented, and creative students to think their not any of things because the things that were valued at school was not what they loved. Their needs to be a new definition of intelligence beyond scoring well on standardized tests and acing a biology exam. He states that intelligence is truly three main things.

1. Intelligence is diverse. The world needs a community of different talents and skills and diversity of talent in order to run smoothy and become a better place.

2. Intelligence is interactive. Most creativity comes from an interaction of seeing things in a number of different ways. Just as we learned in class, Robinson states that, "Creativity is original ideas that have value."

3.  Intelligence is distinct. People must be open to finding and discovering hidden talents within.

According to Sir Robinson the educational system needs to concept of human capacity. Robinson uses analogies frequently to get his point across, which is something we learned in class than many creative people do in order to help common people more fully understand the way they see the world or the domain they are creative within. One analogy he uses is that the educational system is mining our minds, like we have mined the earth, for things that are no longer going to be of value to us in the future. Schools need to start educating the whole being, because a crisis of human resources is upon us. People think they are not good at anything, they don't enjoy what they end up doing in their lives. They endure it rather than enjoy. People who truly love what they do are rare. The reason for this he feels is because education does not "mine" for the natural talents buried deep within a person, and he feels the way to correct this is to create circumstances within schools to allow these natural talents to show themselves.

Schools today are centered around two things that it should not be:

1. Linearity. It is start to finish. He feels however that life is not linear, rather organic and should be treated as such.

2. Conformity. Everything is standard, when it should be focused on each individual.

He uses yet another analogy that sums up his main idea quite well...

That education today is like fast food. Everything is standardized, not customized which is depleting student's spirit and passion, just as restaurant food depletes our body of the nutrients it needs.  

It is this creative perspective and outlook on the educational system that I feel makes Sir Ken Robinson a creative person himself. It addresses the two points that were covered in class. First, it is "novel," it is a new perspective and outlook that he was the first to introduce. Second, it is appropriate. It addresses a solution to a real problem. The problem being that the education system today is not serving students like they should be served, to no fault of the teachers, but rather to the foundations of which the broken system stands on, the solution being focusing on more developing individual talents and encouraging students to do what they are passionate about.

Just from his speeches you can tell Sir Ken Robinson is an extremely interesting person. He was born in 1950 in Liverpool, England to a working class family of nine. He endured several setbacks in his childhood including his dad becoming a quadriplegic after a work accident and suffering from polio as a child. If anything these set backs only encouraged him to perserve to make and impact and really do what he loves. It taught him to do take anything for granted for life is too short to spend it on something you are not passionate about. Something that obviously is reflected in his life work. He went on to earn his degree in English and Drama at University of Leeds and completed a PhD in 1981 at the University of London, researching drama and theatre in education. That both obviously gave him a great foundation for his future work. He had previously work with many programs that helped him to fine tune this perspective and vision he has for the educational system such as The Arts in Schools Project, which was an initiative to develop the arts education throughout England and Wales. He also worked as an advisor to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick, serving four years as Chair of the Department of Arts Education, and as Chair of Research Development within the Faculty of Education. Also, he helped create a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

Finally, Robinson was knighted for his achievements in creativity, education, and the arts by Queen Elizabeth II, for his leading the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education. This was a inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy. Obviously, his life story acts as support for what can happen when someone follows their passions.

The public seems to be in agreement with his plans for education revolution. They seem to generally feel that this is most definitely the direction that education needs to be moving, and that this should help to solve the issues of many children and teens to day feeling out of place at school. The educational community seems to also support his work, shown by numerous honorary degrees that have been awarded to him from several universities and colleges. Not only that, but government agencies, including Queen Elizabeth, seems to appreciate and see the value in what Robinson promotes. The only criticism is the amount of resources it would take for students to receive this education, but people generally seem to think the outcome would be worth any initial cost.

Relating this back to class, Robinson seems to fulfill the "Big C" category, because his vision of what education would be like is creating an entirely new paradigm. Not just fixing or changing something that already exists, but really creating something new from the ground up. Also, as I mentioned previously he uses many analogies when explaining his ideas and beliefs to the public, an important tool for many creative people in order to let other people understand the workings of their mind more clearly. He also seems to have used the tactic of  "collecting"through out his life. Many of his previous work, and his early childhood can easily been reflected in his current work and views. His many experiences in interviews with people as well can be shown by the way that he truly understands the destruction that the educational system today is having in people's life. He has taken these peoples life stories to understand what needs to be changed. He shares these stories and experiences he collects through out his talks and his life to more fully present a picture of what happens when education is not individualized.  Finally, he is a prime example of divergent thinking. He took something, education, and broke off in a whole new direction with it. Changing it from the building blocks we know today into something almost unrecognizable, at least that is his hope.

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