Sir Ken Robinson: a true inspiration to us

In the words of Salt-n-Pepa, “What a man, what a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!”

You will be missed by all Educators around the World. Thank you for your wisdom, laughter and creative thought. You are the reason why I am a teacher, Mrs. L-D.

Who was Ken Robinson?

Besides what we believe to be one of the greatest visionaries for modern change to education; Robinson was a British Educationalist who was a speaker and international advisor for governments on education. A true man of initiative!

Robinson’s passion for an education revolution was built on the concept that; we need to move away from a mechanical-like public education system that had really been created in (roughly) nineteen-twenties for the Industrial Revolution. He held a belief that we need to nurture all kinds of learners and create a society with people skilled and equipped for all kinds of jobs. Robinson expressed his ideas through his many publications and Ted Talks. 

Why we’re inspired by Ken Robinson at Positive Teaching

At Positive Teaching, we too feel the need for a change in the education system that supports all types of learners. Just as Robinson promoted, “…education should give equal weight to the arts, the maths and sciences, the humanities and the sports…” In the Australia System, the curriculum continuum is still mainly based on standardized testing that emphasises the importance of literacy and numeracy at the forefront of schooling. 

If you’re thinking, well they’re important subjects, we totally agree! However do not forget that the language of mathematics and the communication of literacy is the basis for a range of other skills. Therefore can be taught in creative ways. Example geometry and measurement being taught in Woodwork for the kinesthetic learner, or reading comprehension being taught in Drama for the aural/oral learner. Hence the desire for creativity in our schools. Can you believe that in Australia we still have public schools that don’t even offer Music as a subject!

Robinson pointed our attention to the potential loss of diversity and difference in our societies if we continue to teach this way. Recently there has been a movement in education towards more of a creative thinking approach. Robinson’s publication ‘Creative Schools’ emphasised the importance of creativity in learning. Simply, he brought thought…

“Why do all public education systems have the same hierarchy of subjects?”… “Why are our education systems still predicated on the art of the idea of academic ability only”… “of course standardized testing has a place [such as medical research] but it shouldn’t be the only driver in our system”… “Are we educating kids out of creativity?”

Sir Ken Robinson

Australian schools are lucky that they can independently choose pedagogies. There has been a positive shift to move towards creative or inquiry delivery (especially in the Primary years) over the past decade or so. Meaning that schools are choosing a curiosity-engagement-creativity linear style for teaching outcomes. ACARA too (Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority) has created a Critical and Creative Thinking aspect for the assessment of curriculum, however unfortunately standardized testing is still the outcome of our schools importances (especially in Secondary).

Meaning, popular creativity and inquiry driven pedagogies may be implemented… however the end result still seems to come down to ATAR’s and NAPLAN. Is our Secondary School education system still designed only to get into tertiary studies? 

Where is our system leading us?

We believe Robinson’s concepts for equal weighted subjects and a movement away from a standardized curriculum is about creating a climate for education that will benefit society and all the needed jobs within it. In a way, if we continue to teach a concept of outcomes that are simply, right and wrong, we will lose our inventors, artists and problem solvers. Our society needs all kinds of thinkers! We still need the linear thinkers, but also need the critical thinkers, the creative thinkers, the idealists, the analysts, the realists, the pragmatists… and well, all the ‘-ists.’

Therefore, if the purpose of our education system is to essentially equip people for society (which it should be). Should we be offering an education system that nurtures all skills? Rather than a focus predominately on tertiary studies. 

How do we plan to continue Robinson’s ideas?

Positive Teaching plans to research; continue to read; continue to study how we can improve the education system so that we nurture Beings into their natural strengths and create a diverse society. We hope to build confidence in students, teachers, parents and schools to nurture the learning process in a positive way that supports the nature of the child. We plan to continue to be inspired and continue to inform. 

Resources and References:

TED TALK: The Education Revolution. by Sir Ken Robinson 

TED TALK: Do schools kill creativity? by Sir Ken Robinson.

TED TALK: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley. by Sir Ken Robinson  

 © Positive Teaching

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