Monday, January 31, 2011

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - Part 3: Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson flew into the scope of public awareness with his first TED Talk in 2006. His funny yet insightful opinions about education and how humans really learn created a wave of head-nodding agreement that continues to circle the globe. And it's not that he's saying anything all that different from the edgy words of the educational reformers of the 1960's. The main difference is that due to our access to information, the world is now poised to hear these words and we are indeed, thanks to the internet and organizations like TED, able to hear them. As many times as we want. And we can share them. With as many people as we want.

Sir Ken is not a proponent of home education--to be perfectly clear. He's one of the reasons (although there will be more) why I wrote this post about how, for me, it seems important to use the words and ideas of great thinkers like Ken Robinson to create the philosophical theoretical base we need to ensure that homeschooling continues to be an option available to us (and our children) for many years to come. The type of reform he's talking about for schools, we already do at home... or can do at home, easily, should we choose. That's powerful stuff.

And, from my perspective, Ken Robinson is bigger than home education. His ideas are bigger than home education. His hopes and dreams are bigger than home education. His audience is bigger than home educators as he is asking for educational reform on a massive scale based on his philosophical ideals about learning. His talks are preparing the ground for some Very Big Change to occur by helping conventionally educated people think differently about education. He's so very good at this and people are listening. And that's encouraging.

I found this recent video where Sir Ken answers a Twitter question about homeschooling: "What are your thoughts on home education and how that model can be applied to schools?" His response is interesting.

I've rounded up some wonderful Sir Ken stuff (I'm sure there is more!) and listed it below. It's worth taking the time to follow the various links and listen to what he says... and to pick up his books and read them. And the next time someone asks why you homeschool, you can talk about the importance of an individualized education, building on an individual's strengths rather than only trying to ameliorate areas of weakness. You can talk about that sweet spot where strengths and passions collide, where people find something that they love and are good at and where work becomes oh-so-much-more. And you can quote Sir Ken Robinson. Chances are, that person will already have heard of him.


Do Schools Destroy Creativity? - the first fabulous TEDTalk

Ken Robinson - Do Schools Destroy Creativity?


Education Is Broken

CNN Interview: Education is Broken

From the above CNN video:

"One of the problems for education is that it's based on principles of mass production. There's a big emphasis on conformity and standardizing. And all that makes some superficial sense; but the problem is that educating young people is not like making motor cars. At all. One key difference is that motor cars have no interest in how they are made. Young people do...

"You cannot make a plant grow. If you are trying to grow things, you don't stick the roots on and paint it and attach the petals. It grows itself. That's the nature of organic development and we are organic beings. What gardeners know is that there are certain conditions under which that will happen. If the conditions aren't right, nothing will grow. If the conditions are good, everything grows." - Sir Ken Robinson


Bring on the Learning Revolution! This is the latest fabulous TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson.

Look for his brief mention of home education at 16:12+.

He closes with this William Butler Yeats poem:
Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

And then says, "And every day, everywhere our children spread their dreams beneath our feet. And we should tread softly."


Changing Paradigms

Here is a wonderfully animated excerpt from a talk given by Sir Ken Robinson at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA). He has some very important insights about the "epidemic" of ADHD that's so prevalent in school settings.

The full talk, not animated, is here:

Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Paradigms


The Element

Another RSA event where SKR talks about his wonderful book, The Element, and what he means by that term.

Ken Robinson - The Element