This evening, I participated in a Discovery Education Webinar with Sir Ken Robinson, PhD, the “internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business.”
Sir Robinson speaks on what works and what doesn’t work in education. Previously, education was just something to get through. It was a selection process: what school you went to, what classes you took, how well you did. Drama, for example, had all kinds of benefits in education but was always seen as peripheral: group work, awareness of the attitudes of others, collaboration.
The debate over education has taken an intense turn over the past ten years as international economic competition has ramped up. Robinson argues that education is a human process – and personal process, not an industrial process. Using his drama analogy, Robinson argues that for drama, the irreduceable minimum for theatre is the actor and the one person in the audience. For education, this minimum is teaching and learning.
Learning, then, is a natural process. But, you can be involved in an activity without achieving. If a student isn’t learning, a person isn’t teaching! We need to focus on the relationship between teacher and learner. We cannot improve education without this focus. You need to support the teachers! A teacher, according to Robinson, is one who inspires, mentors, sees the student for who he/she is and engages imaginations.
Robinson further argues we need to get “back to basics.” Our focus on the basics usually targets STEM. “If we could only get the STEM issues worked out, we can get back on track.” That implies that if you are interested in the arts, humanities or dance, you can sit this one out.
Robinson suggests back to basics means:
1. Economic – adaptability, creativity, non-standardization
2. Cultural – an increasingly complex world that we all must understand. Education must be broad.
3. Social – education must engage people in their communities. Education needs to be more personal, customized and human.
We want our students so in our element that you don’t even realize what it is. Time passes differently if something resonates with you. Your element!
Education should allow for diversity of ability, not a narrow focus of curriculum. This narrow focus shuts people off from other possible journeys. To be in your element, you have to love it. And you will never work again.
Here’s the webcast in its entirety.