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Changing Education Paradigms

Sir Ken Robinson is a phenomenal speaker, who is hilarious and insightful in turns. His lectures focus on the challenges faced by public education systems worldwide. During one of his many talks at TED conferences, he made great points about how our current educational systems diligently work to “education people out of their creative capacities” and therefore kills innovation and artistic thoughts/actions.

One video in particular, titled “Changing Education Paradigms”, was so profound that it changed how I think about the public education my children (and I, as a university student) receive.

Sir Ken Robinson’s comments about “children living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the Earth” and being “beseeched with information and calls for their attention from all directions” while “we are penalizing them for getting distracted from the boring stuff” we teach them in school truly resonated with me. As citizens of a wealthy and intellectually advanced nation, I often wonder why we are not seeking and demanding more innovative means to educate our children (and ourselves as lifelong learners.)

To bring higher education into the 21st century, I think we need a cultural paradigm shift to change the way we structure our educational institutions, the manner in which we deliver information and more importantly, our attitudes and ingrained thoughts about what it means to be an educated person. I am curious why we focus education on reading, writing, and arithmetic and not incorporating visual arts, dance, drama, music?

Practically speaking, some education needs to be separate from professional work. Students need to learn basic skills (reading, writing, math, science, critical thinking) to allow them a foundation to build future skills upon. However, I believe “education” should come from a COMBINATION of a variety of sources, which may include traditional classroom experiences, courses through engagement with community and civic organizations, on-the-job skills acquired through employment, as well as more abstract skills for learning through life lessons. As a student in my 30’s, I feel better prepared to apply newly acquired information (from any source) that I did in my early 20’s – and that mainly comes from the education and maturity gained through life experiences.

I invite you to watch the 11 minute video by Robinson in partnership with RSA Animate and then ponder the below questions.

As adults, and society as a whole, should we value an education separate from professional work?

What should we do to bring education into 21st century?

What do you think about the following quote by Robinson in his video How School Kill Creativity“?

“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they will have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now I’m not saying that being wrong is the same as being creative; but what we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. By the time they get to be adults most kids have lost that capacity and they have become frightened of being wrong. … We are now running our national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. As a result we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”  (5:27-6:32).