Monday, May 24, 2010

We need a Revolution, not an Evolution, in Education.

Sir Ken Robinson has been speaking again at TED2010. He talks about the urgency of dealing with the crisis of human resources and how we make poor use of our talents which leads to many people enduring rather than enjoying what they do. He says this is because education dislocates people from their natural talents - it does not allow these talents to show. Although education around the world is being reformed, Sir Ken argues that what is needed is a revolution in education - education has to be transformed, not just evolve into something new. This innovation involves challenging what we have always done and the way we have done it. Sir Ken gives the example of people over the age of 25 continuing to wear wristwatches, whereas teenagers often don't wear them. This is because they live in a digital culture - time is everywhere - so they don't need to wear a watch. We don't need to wear one either, but most of us still do because "that's the way we've always done it".

In education we think we have to be on a linear track - however life is not linear it is organic. Human communities depend upon diverse talent, yet education tends to value conformity rather than diversity. Sir Ken likens education today to fast food (all standardised). He says we have sold our selves to a fast food model of education which is impoverishing our spirits and our energies whereas what we should be encouraging is passion and excitement.

Sir Ken's message is that we have to go from an industrial model of education based on linearity and conformity to an agricultural model as human flourishing is an organic process. We cannot predict the outcome but we have to set the conditions under which children can flourish. We have to customise education to our circumstances and personalise education to the students we are actually teaching. We need to revolutionise education so that our children will flourish.

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