Sunday, November 10, 2013

Blog Post #12, What We Learned from Mr. Ken Robinson

Authored by Secoria Burks

In this video Ken Robinson addresses problems that we face in education so far. Education as it is alienates certain students, and marginalizes points of value in students. Current school structure was designed during the Enlightenment period and was based around economics and intelligence. This system has created the notion that there are smart and non-smart people and this is not only ineffective but creates unnecessary chaos. 

Another topic he discusses is the misappropriated use of prescription drugs on students and the effects they have on classroom participation. He explains how students of this age are the most stimulated in history. They are being stimulated by their surroundings and more and more by chemical substances.Both of these things make it hard for students to focus on what is usually boring student material. Instead of attempting to make the material just as stimulating students are often penalized for not being interested. The point he really works at is that students are being numbed to experiences that are supposed to make them feel alive. 

School structure is another big topic he discusses. He emphasizes the importance put on student age instead of ability. Also he elaborates on how schools are modeled after factories. There are ringing bells, separate facilities, subjects are divided up, and students are taught in batches determined by age. This is a form of educating that is only conducive to standardized learning. His final topic is divergent thinking, he begins by explaining that divergent thinking is an essential component to creativity and that as children progress in the current education machine they lose this skill.   

The Importance of Creativity with Ken Robinson
Authored by: Lindsay Stewart

In this video, Ken Robinson provides a profound case for the need of our educational system to nurture rather than undermine creativity.  Ken’s talk is very entertaining, and he kept my full attention for the duration.

Ken explains that everyone has an interest in education; it is not only teachers or students that have an interest.  Ken explains that education is meant to lead our children into the future.  However, he also points out that the future is quite unpredictable, and how can we educate for unpredictability?  Ken explains that we must begin with nurturing the innovation, talents, and creativity of others.  He points out that our current education system stifles the creative minds of children; furthermore, Ken states that there is currently an academic inflation.  There is a lot of focus on degrees and meeting education marks.  Ken directs us to see that children are not, by nature, afraid of taking chances; rather, we are educating our children out of creativity.  He argues that if you do not take chances and are afraid of being wrong, then you will not come up with anything creative and original; this is something that education takes away from children.
Ken is passionate about nurturing the creativity of others.  Instead of squandering the talents of our children, we should embrace them.  He shows us that degrees really are not worth much compared to the creativity we are stifling.  We need to change our perception of human capacity, and we should use our gift of imagination wisely and encourage that gift in others. Ken’s talk on creativity brought to life again many points I have read and heard recently through the interaction in my EDM310 class.  There are many passionate educators that want to see a change, and there are people that “really get it.”  But how do we move from pointing out the issues to making the changes to put these great ideas into practice?  There are many guidelines that educators must follow based on where they are employed.  I would hope my classroom would be one that encourages all creativity, but I am concerned about my own limits as an educator.  When will “those in charge” embrace the need to allow more imagination and nourishment of talents in our schools? As Ken says, the future is unpredictable; I hope the future includes many ideas I have in my own imagination.

How To Escape Education’s Death Valley
Authored by: Jo Davis

In this TED talk Sir Ken Robinson discusses not only the problems that have caused the dire state of education in America but also the problems with the solutions that have been proposed to fix education in America. Firstly he addresses the ironically named “No Child Left Behind” program and the harm that it has done for education and for the flourishing of students' minds. Sir Ken Robinson states that there are three principles that are essential for human life to flourish and that they are all three contradicted by the system of education at present. The first of the principles that Sir Ken Robinson reveals is that human beings are naturally very diverse and vary greatly amongst one another. This nature of diversity is directly contradicted by the No Child Left Behind program that places an extreme importance on conformity and standardization. The forced system of standardization narrows the field of education for students to a small group of subjects that have been deemed necessary. The subjects and material being taught are important but by themselves with all the focus only on these subjects it is simply not sufficient. As Sir Robinson says, a focus on the arts and humanities is an absolute necessity when it comes to a proper education. Along with the cherry picking of subjects, the methods of teaching and learning are also being stifled so all children must learn and do school work in a uniform manner, yet again directly contradicting the diverse human nature. The next principle that Sir Robinson addresses is the inherent curiosity of human kind. He states that children are natural learners and if educators can just light the spark of curiosity the children will learn so much on their own. He attributes part of this problem to the de-professionalization of the teaching profession. Teachers are not meant to only pass along learned information but to rather facilitate learning. Instead, the current system of education in America enforces compliance by having teachers teach and students learn only for the purpose of a standardized test. In this system the curiosity of the students is being quashed and learning is being impeded. It is crucial that this problem is rectified as curiosity is absolutely vital in education and learning.  The last principle Sir Robinson addresses is that of the creativity of humans. He states that education has a duty to nurture creativity in developing minds. This is yet again being stifled by the culture of standardization. Sir Robinson compares this to the highly successful education system in Finland and states that the Finnish individualize teaching and learning, place a very high standard on the profession of teaching, and devolve the power and responsibility of teaching to the individual school level. These methods address the three principles Sir Ken Robinson spoke on to create what diverse, curious, and creative humans need to learn...and organic system of education! With such a system that can develop and aid students in learning, the current crisis in American education would be no more. So much can be learned from Sir Ken Robinson by taking these essential factors for the flourishing of the mind and using them to evaluate the state of education in America. All educators should take his points into consideration because as he stated,” No school is better than its teachers.” America is certainly in dire need of an escape from education’s death valley.

Ken Robinson is an innovator in education, and he pushes others to understand their students and their talents more fully.  We listened to three videos provided by TED Talks in which Ken guides our thoughts into a direction away from the mundane, structural, and predictable educational system. He challenges us to question the current structure of our educational system and pushes us to encourage others in their creativity.

 Dr.Ken Robinson and one of his quotes reading