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Ken Robinson's ideas about how to change education

(21 Posts)
ragged Sat 02-Jul-11 10:26:56

I keep falling asleep when I try to watch his video or read his talk (like here); that's when I am not bristling with criticisms of the bits I think are incorrect (statistically or otherwise) or other things that he says that annoy me.

Can someone who understands tell me what the main conclusions are, bullet point style, in what KR thinks a better education system would be like? I am trying to be open-minded.

carocaro Sat 02-Jul-11 20:42:56

Don't be daft, it's not that hard to listen too without falling asleep, how lazy getting others to do your work for you! Read his book also. Is this for Uni or something? If you are bing lazy now how will you be in the future?

ragged Sun 03-Jul-11 10:40:04


carocaro Mon 04-Jul-11 17:00:16


Did an OU course recently, did not post in here asking for all the answers!

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 03:54:38

Do they offer OU courses in KR's ideas? Lord help us...

FYI I have a phd in social sciences and a string of publications in good international journals already, so am already over-educated & under-employable. And was trying to avoid wasting hours of my life wading thru KR's waffle to figure out why his ideas are fashionable. But given I'm having a bout of insomnia, here goes on wasting an hour of my life...

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 04:12:39

Notes on what KR says, with italics for my own thoughts (sorry for the critical note, can't help it, training you know!). I'm putting in bold the bits (not many) that are actually about education:

Title: Sustainable change in education okay, so he's into er... something practical in education change? Who isn't into practical education change?

Speaker: KR, creativity expert Ah, so that's probably it, he's all about creativity. WTF is a "creativity expert", & who decided he deserves the title?

(Skipping to when KR starts talking)

Expresses surprise he got some award
Says he was humbled by it
Says he is usually humialiated not humbled
Pays homage to Benjamin Franklin jolly well ought to, BF was amazing man
Pays homage to history of RSA
inept joke re recycling previous rsa lecture
mention of why spoke previously for RSA
17 yrs later, he moved to southern California in 1990 that's funny, I was born & raised in CA & I moved to Britain in 1991, much prefer living here, I have a feeling we couldn't be more poles apart culturally me & KR
Couldn't move fast enough to USA
inept joke
Loves life in USA
Loved recent visit to Las Vegas
LV shows the amazing power of human beings
Moves into power of imagination are we talking about education now?, FINALLY
Human beings not like other creatures
Imagination is systematically destroyed in how we educate our children finally getting somewhere, only took him 1000 words
Paradigms need changing, that's the nature of paradigms
Some subjects are considered more important than others in schools
Eg., Arts are less important in schools than math
He guesses because arts have less economic opportunities than math er, yeah, and arts are dull
Less Useful subjects are less important in school than more useful ones God Forbid schools should provide useful skills?
KR doesn't like George Bush either
It's a myth that Americans don't get irony
It's a myth that Americans don't like hugs
GBush (Snr?) introduced legislation that KR finds very ironic, damaged education
Chris Woodhead was inspired by this American legislation
Education being reformed world-wide that's human nature, to change & improve, doesn't prove anything

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 04:32:51

ps: he was slagging off GBush snr, I think, who is widely much more popular than GW, I expect that was another inept joke.

Ed. reform more consistent now than it used to be, economic & cultural preservation reasons I wouldn't negate the power of communication, competitive globalisation in all this, too
KR emphasises the cultural preservation aspects of education really? As a cultural transplant myself I haven't noticed that my DC are being educated in a spirt of cultural preservation any more than I was educated 30+ yrs ago
Trend is Sticking with old paradigm of what ed. should be
something about raisiing ed. standards is obv. what we should do
Our ed. system is based on Enlightenment Principles
State education, free to most, was objected to originally, revolutionary concept Still not free to MANY in many countries
We ended up with a broad base of education that most of us recognise: elementary, middle, high school
University originally for an elite How does that fit with medieval Unis?
Our Ed system modelled on the economic premises of industrialism okay, so principles of Enlightment + reality of Industrialisation combined... not surprising, clever people wanting to better educate an increasingly urban workforce, with social campaigners looking to use education as a tool of social mobility (that's why it's still not free in some places, no industrialisation and poor social equality
End up with expectation of lots of blue collar, some admin, elite professional workers but this isn't how the workforce has been comprised for 30+ yrs, perhaps I can agree with KR on something
Assumption that deductive skills and others that we currently label as "academic" skills are what was needed proof otherwise??
Idea that there are "two" types of people, academic & non-academic, and we too quickly cast people into one mode or the other So how do you reconcile people who are good at science & maths but lousy at literature? Or good at French & computers but iffy at math? Good at business & making things but iffy at learning stuff out of books? Haven't we long recognised those people exist?
Twin pillars: economic & intellectual for typecasting people, which cause damage only if it's interpretted that rigidly, I didn't think it was
Digression onto Al Gore, something called TED I really can't follow that website
Stuff about developments in geology I think he's moving onto Paradigms, why TF hasn't he cited Kuhn yet? I had to read Kuhn when I was 17 for a Political Science course, isn't his stuff elementary by now?, and Kuhn was almost old-hat by the time I read him, too
Geology link is something to do with no precedent for where we are now
Because the challenges we face now (ecological, economic, etc.) are so unprecedented we need unprecedented ways of thinking to address them really? I can't see that KR has proven yet that one follows the other?
Natural env. crisis, Inept joke
Climate crisis -> Crisis in human resources not sure I should bold that, but what the heck

ooh! That's half an hour, but I think I'm moving closer to bullet points. At least I save some other OU course student from the work, eh?

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 04:49:02

California State Education system spends a lot of money I was a beneficiary
More money spent on CA prisons than on State Universities which implies more good people than bad ones that leaves out the thousands of CA students in private Universities, of course, which can work out cheaper to attend than the state Universities, and leaves out the higher fees (near full costs) paid by out-of-state & foreign students; of course, everyone pays some fees, even my nephew with zero income, that's why the JCs are bursting; carry on KR, since you understand the CA system so well and think it's somehow relevant to how education is funded in the UK
People are mostly good not bad
Depression is rife because of what is wrong with the education society a rather unsubstantiated claim
Education rate contributes to high Suicide rates, too another leap of conjecture, other people would say it's lack of religion or excess materialism that's mainly to blame
The Arts are the saviour in many cases? for redeeming the depressed, suicidal, & criminal?
Some initiative KR approves of called Education for Capability
People KR knows well involved with EfC
Govt. taking no notice of EfC ideas
Hardly any countries taking on KR's ideas of what needs doing in ed'n.
People are educated based on what we think they should be, rather than being trained to follow instincts & be intrinsically motivated I think I'm paraphrasing correctly
Please buy my book, it's good
People can connect to a powerful sense of talent within themselves, this is the premise of KR's ideas for Edn reform so tell me how?
KR's ideas synergise the self ??
Drivers of change = technology + something else
Asks audience what generation they are, some analogy with wrist-watches My 11yo is so out of date, he loves his wrist watch
Taking it for granted that a wristwatch is the right way to keep track of time
Kids under 20 are "different" which generation hasn't observed that in the last 80 yrs!?
Oh, but things are changing faster than they did before
...another 15 minutes

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 05:07:41

Population explosion and changing demographics are the other factor driving change really, just population + technology, is that all?? What kind of change are we talking about here, KR wasn't specific & I'm lost?
Increasing urbanisation, popn. explosion in "developing countries" as part of that change...
Emergence of super-size cities
Unprecedented demand for earth's resources ok, unprecedented in human history, maybe
American spending on education figures, no improvement in high school graduation rate very unsure if it's fair to extrapolate from this to world wide conditions, esp. for those super-size cities, or for places with fewer home-ed or many more privately educated pupils
Taught in past that if you worked hard at school and got X qualifications you'd get a job I'd quibble with degree details, but can let it pass as rephrased
Shouldn't segregate academic from non-academic kids in our thinking
Inept joke about plastic surgery
People over 30 all used to have tonsils ripped out, now they all get diagnosed with ADHD & put on drugs for it, it's just unnecessary fashion weird that I don't know anybody my age, 40+ who has had tonsils removed, and I barely know anybody with a kid with ADHD diagnosis, although I think DS2 deserves one, but anyway, KR speaks to his experience & I speak to mine; will he at least say that some cases of ADHD are legit?
Ah, he has no idea if ADHD is legit, but he doesn't think it's common even if it is legit is he going to explain why it's a prevalent unnec. diagnosis now?
Aha! ADHD is here because of standardised testing because we didn't have incredibly chronically disruptive pupils when I was in school in the 1970s, I must have imagined that; nor in my dad's school days (Dad used to routinely thump fellow pupils for looking at him sideways & regularly nipped over the playground fence during recess to frolic in the local woodyard, No-Siree, no badly behaved can't-sit-still kids back in the 1940s, either; and my 32yo cousin who couldn't concentrate in school and still struggles with foreseeing consequences in her life? Her ADD diagnosis was overkill too, I guess.
Geographic disparity in ADHD diagnoses I'd like a look at that data, for that alone I could seek out KR's book
An aesthetic experience is one in whichyour senses are operating at their peak ref?
Education puts children aesthetic senses to sleep maybe
we have a system of education that is modelled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it.

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 05:08:42

Damnit, that's an hour, and I am only slightly clearer on what KR wants, but will carry on for a bit

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 05:31:55

Schools are still pretty much organised on factory lines; ringing bells how else to communicate to all quickly?, would he prefer no schedule?
separate facilities with CRB paranoia, no choice
specialised into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches. We put them through the system by age group. Why do we do that? What is there this assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is how old they are? I think in Germany (?elsewhere) they start school based on passing a developmental test, flexible date entry possible elsewhere; common in the USA to hold children back or let them skip up a year or two; if he doesn't want grouping roughly by age, what does he propose?
Asynchronous development is common This is where streaming & setting come in, no?
Modern education is mostly about standardisation I can agree with his objections here, but it's a rage of the last 10-15 yrs, not since the Enlightenment & advent of state-provided education, doesn't prove his case for a larger paradigm shift
Says we need to go in opposite direction from standardisation, I presume

Ooh! Trying to find the Bertrand Russell quote I came across a review of a KR talk, which mentions the apparent lack of References.

Appears the Bertrand Russell quote is "Is a man what he seems to the astronomer, a tiny lump of impure carbon and water impotently crawling on a small and unimportant planet? Or is he what he seems to Hamlet? Or is he both at once?" both, but that's just imho

Earth is small, people are small, Universe is big
People aren't worried about Martian invaders any more
Pluto is no longer a planet
The Sun is big
So keep things in perspective, your problems are small
Humans are amazing because we can understand how small we are
Humans are amazing because we can imagine things
But we destroy our amazingness with how we educate our children he really hasn't proven this point AT ALL; many of the amazing things he cites came out of this supposedly destructive education system
Moving onto something called divergent thinking (which is not the same as creativity
Gives an example of how uncreative our thinking is, because if you ask somebody uses of a paperclip they won't imagine a paperclip that is 200m tall and made out of foam rubber I think that's a problem of asking the wrong question, not expecting super divergency in the answers
Little Children are very good at divergent thinking, adults are not still hasn't proven the case for divergent over not-divergent thinking
most great learning happens in groups, that collaboration is the stuff of growth yeah, but some amazing thinking has come out of mad Eastern Europeans & Russians sitting alone & just thinking & thinking for years & years... like Einstein's ToR
Something philosophical about human origins
human organisations are not like mechanisms...Human organisations are much more like organisms. That is to say, they depend upon feelings and relationships and motivation and value, self-value and a sense of identity and of community. well, we are tribal, territorial, and caste-oriented (always wanting our relative place in the pecking order to be clearcut), you mean; all that is strongly human nature, too

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 05:54:21

Education should be organised more like agriculture than industry agriculture is very industrialised nowadays,now sure the simile will hold up well!!
Oklahoma is taking on KR's ideas Good, so now we can see how they work in the real world
Death Valley looks empty only to the ignorant
*If we create the right conditions in our school, if we create the right incentives, if we value each learner for themselves and properly,
growth will happen.* I am not a teacher, too many undiagnosed & untreated ADHD kids in my schools put me off the idea for life but I imagine I'd find a statement like that quite insulting, the notion that I was working in a environment that didn't value each learner for themselves
need to shift from this industrial paradigm to an organic paradigm I still think he's thinking of some idyllic 1800s farming conditions metaphor
not about conformity but about diversity and that is critically about customisation. move away from standardisation, well, I'm with him there

That's end of main talk, now onto discussion & videos
Too much homework I agree
Example of a succeeding school with poor ability intake and failing school with high ability intake so pressure is bad and close pastoral care is good, totally agree; but it's only one pair of schools, not sure that anecdotes=data
(The only thing that will improve education) is improving the quality of teachers
Education standards have become too prescriptive Agree,but again, this is a problem of last 10-15 yrs, not a basis for larger paradign shift from post-Enlightenment model
More calls for schools to have individual approaches agree
Concedes to some kind of rating system/external monitoring of outcomes still necessary, but not in a "tracking" way of frequent testing
Says that Singapore system is good ?I think he says that, I thought they were famous for drilling & long hours of repetition homework
Mention of Finland with Singapore as good system, too
20,000 head teachers, properly motivated, properly trained, properly resourced, would transform education in five years.... So, at the moment they aren't properly trained or resourced?
KR is not against standardised testing. (but) against ... it becoming the point of the exercise
More about what makes good teachers...
Parents should try to change the paradigm but still hasn't proven that fundamentally the paradigm needs changing
Seems to imply that Montessori is an example of the paradigm he wants but not only possible model, I presume
Talk about how nobody picked up on Paul McCartney's musical talents at school
Dance as a tool for reforming juvenile delinquents (video)
what happens if you get through to people, make demands of them, give them an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do and connect to their talent. Then you get transformation, that’s the paradigm. more waffle, could mean anything

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 05:55:41

That's 2 hours, I'll come back again and do the bullet points, I think at the core of it, the only thing that looks especially different, is the "agricultural" model of learning, but I don't get that yet.

ragged Tue 05-Jul-11 13:56:55

Agricultural Metaphor: is badly misnamed. Or rather, KR very badly doesn't understand agriculture, especially modern agriculture (has he not heard of GM or Gregor Mendel??).

A better metaphor would be "rainforest" model. Where you throw the child (unknown quantity, like the dormant seeds and roots of Death Valley) into a environment saturated with (learning) resources and low on controls (targets), and see what amazing diversity, creativity and vitality result.

However, other aspects of the Rainforest metaphor worry me: Rainforests are highly chaotic & competitive places. They also have most their nutrients in the biomass; remove the biomass and not much is left in the soil (cue desertification). Not apparent to casual outside observers, but rainforests are highly structured for many: those at the bottom are firmly at the bottom and have little mobility to get near the top.

I will move onto bullet points later.

MollieO Tue 05-Jul-11 22:03:58

I like the fact that he doesn't see the pinnacle of academic achievement to be having a professorship, which is the view amongst much of academia. Instead he considers those who are talented in other areas like music, dance etc are equal to anything that traditional academics consider as achievement.

I first heard of him when my son's golf teacher emailed a link to one of his talks. It resonated with me as ds is academically bright but in a different league entirely when it comes to non-academic subjects.

I sent the link to ds's teacher who told me that she admired his work and thought what he said made sense. I guess those who value traditional academic, measurable achievement wouldn't place much weight on what Sir Ken says.

ragged Wed 06-Jul-11 13:02:39

I want to bullet point in this post and bite my tongue (Hard!!) re criticisms/debate:

Justification for Paradigm change
Dramatic potential and actual crises in the world, esp. natural environment

What the Paradigm shift would mean in practice
* Very limited if any standardised testing
* Few if any targets in lessons, exercises, school records/tracking
* Putting pupils in a richly stimulating environment and not trying much to control the outcome attainment levels
* An education system which excites the aesthetic senses a lot (art, dance, ?), equally to "academic" subjects
* Schools to be free to experiment, expected to not have national or other standardised approaches
* Teaching which actively (as a target for teachers!) encourages divergent and creative thinking
* Very well-resourced and trained teachers, HTs, administrators and schools
* Education that actively expects and accommodates asynchronous (uneven) development and talents
* Education that boosts self-esteem, helps people find their inner talent rather than strive for external targets
* Almost all skills (eg., arts, sport, anything that could be called a skill) to be treated as equally important and valid as traditional "academic" skills

carocaro Sun 10-Jul-11 13:05:16

Does all your over qualification preclude you from a job in a supermarket? There are several on Tesco and Sainsbury's websites or are you too clever?

I'd stop now then if despite all your qualifications, published works are doing no good at all. To spout KR's ideas etc are no good as you say they are 'fashionable' is no argument at all. You quite clearly decided beforehand that you think his ideas are crap; so much for a well balanced academic paper coming from you then.

I would put your arguments to him directly via FB/Twitter etc and he can respond. Looks like his work is much more internationally recognised that yours, maybe something in that you think?

freerangeeggs Sun 10-Jul-11 23:12:38

wtf is this thread all about? It just reads like some kind of weird rant

ragged Mon 11-Jul-11 11:18:49

Sorry Freerange, not meant as a rant. Only I asked a Question and the only response was that I should get off my fat Arse to rise to the challenge of finding the answer to the Question for myself. So I did just that, with possible critical comments, and now Carocaro is slagging me off for doing just that. confused

Honestly, no pleasing some people.

Meanwhile I feel bad (apologised to DH) for not putting the content on our own website so we could get the Google Adsense pennies, but that's by the by.

carocaro Mon 11-Jul-11 18:57:27

She is clearly just trying to show off. But it's not really working. Is she thinks what she has written is academic in any way, she should also think again. Just bullet point rantings.

What is the website then? (will watch tumbleweed drift across screen as it will never be put up)

carocaro Mon 11-Jul-11 18:59:11

You wanted people do do your work for you then you moan when people don't agree. Oh but you are an academic and you don't do criticism do you.

Oh DH our poor Adsense words pennies we are missing out on on boo hoo.

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