Thursday, October 20, 2011


Ken Robinson, in his February 2006 TED Talk (available here), challenges us to redesign education to nurture and support creativity. Here's some snapshots of his great talk. "Does School Kill Creativity?"

Children - Capacity for Innovation

"All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly."
"My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status."

Creativity Requires the Space to Make Mistakes

“Kids will take a chance. If kids don't know, they will take a go, they aren't afraid of being wrong.”
"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original."

In our culture now, adults stigmatize mistakes. "We are educating people out of their creative capacities."

"We don't grow into creativity, we get educated out of it."

Imagine Shakespeare as a Child
We don't think of Shakespeare being a child. Ken lived near where Shakespeare's father lived.
“Shakespeare was in someone's English class. Imagine Shakespeare as a child. 'Go to bed now. Put the pencil down and stop speaking like that.'”

Against the Arts at the Bottom of the Hierarchy of Subjects, Critique of Industrial Education as Reproducing Lopsided and Disembodied Head-Focused Experience

Robinson argues against the current hierarchy of subjects. Reading Math, then Humanities, then the Arts. Within the arts, there's a hierarchy. art and music higher status drama, dance

"There's no school system that teaches dance everyday. We all have bodies, did I miss a meeting. As children grow up, we educate them progressively from the waist up, and then we focus on their heads, and slightly to one side. If we were to visit education as an alien and ask what is it for, you'd have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors, they're the people who come out on the top. We should not hold them up as the high water mark of all human achievement, they are just another form of life. They live in their heads, up there and slightly to one side. They are disembodied. They look at their body as a form of transport for their heads. It's a way of getting their head to meetings."

"Our education system was ... to meet the needs of industrialism. Most useful subjects are at the top. Don't do music, you won't be a musician. Now profoundly mistaken. Second is, academic ability. academic intelligence. The whole system is a protracted entrance exam to university."

“In the next 30 years, more people will be graduating from education than any time in history. Suddenly, degrees aren't worth anything….Before, if you had a degree and if you didn't have a job, it's because you didn't want one.” Now you need a higher and higher one- whole structure changing.

Intelligence is Diverse, Dynamic, and Distinct
"We need to radically rethink our understanding of intelligence. .... It's diverse. Secondly, it's dynamic. Intelligence is wonderfully interactive. Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value." It comes because of going across disciplines (13:50). "The third thing about intelligence is that it's distinct."

Dancer, not Deficient
Story about Dancer [now captured in his book, The Element (2009)], GIllian Lynne was sent to a specialist because the school suspected a learning disorder, when the doctor figured out, she was a dancer. "'Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn't sick, she's a dancer.'" Gillian was able to attend dance school and eventually choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera.

A New Human Ecology Based on Building Human Capacity
"Al Gore spoke the other night about ecology and the revolution that was triggered by Rachel Carson. I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our understanding of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the same way we've strip mined the Earth, for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children."

Need to Re-aim Education at Creativity to Change Human Planetary Presence for Healing/Generative Purposes
 "Jonas Salk...said, 'if all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years, all life on earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, all forms of life on earth would flourish.' And he's right."

Celebrating the Human Imagination
"What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios we've heard about. The only way we'll do it is to see our creative capacities for the richness that they are and understand seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being so that they can face this future. By the way, we might not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it."