Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Decline of Genius

Today I've been looking at the second part of Sir Ken Robinson's address to the Apple Education Leadership Summit in 2008. What a great combination - I loved the Apple Summit in Hong Kong last year, am looking forward to going to the next one in Prague next month, and always enjoy listening to Sir Ken. This talk was about divergent thinking, which is part of every creative process. It is the capacity to see connections and multiple answers to a problem, to read the questions differently and to generate more questions. It's the kind of thing I see teachers trying to do in the inquiry based approach of the PYP.

Sir Ken went on to discuss that tests made on kindergarten students showed that 98% of them were divergent thinkers. Follow up studies were done on the same children at the ages of 8-10 and again at the ages of 13-15. The students who remained divergent thinkers were only 32% at ages 8-10 and this number dropped further to just 18% at the age of 13-15. Sir Ken argues that this indicates that everybody is born with extraodinary capacities but that this declines as a result of an education that prizes just one right answer (standardised tests for example), and that regards collaboration as cheating. He says that underlying this is the problem of narrowing the curriculum and valuing science, technology, engineering and maths above all other subjects - and that all these other areas are just as important for children's well-rounded growth (or in the language of the IB learner profile, balanced).

Sir Ken talks about the Renaissance, a time of fluid interaction between different disciplines in a society that valued innovation for economic and cultural purposes. He says we need a new renaissance, yet our current education stops the interaction between the disciplines. Again this brings me to thinking about the MYP and what a great programme it is, encouraging students to synthesise their thinking, understanding and knowledge from two or more subject areas through the areas of interaction and integrate them to create new understanding.

Finally Sir Ken talks about what is most important in educational reform: curriculum, assessment and pedagogy. Of these pedagogy is the most important, yet in my experience all too often our in-service is focused on curriculum and assessment. Sir Ken argues that of course we need to reform all three, but the only way to get true reform is to tackle pedagogy - schools will only improve by addressing the teaching and learning.

The problem is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.

- Sir Ken Robinson

Photo Credit: Crayola Lincoln Logs by laffy4K

1 comment:

  1. Maggie, I am looking forward to taking some time to watch this video. It is such a sad statement of our school systems when students enter school with divergent, creative thinking and exit stripped of it.