Ken Robinson makes me excited to be a part of education’s future. If you haven’t seen his 2010 TED talk, then this video is a must watch. He gives a witty and eye-opening twelve minute talk about the history and traditions of public education, exposing the ways school has alienated young people.
Robinson makes plain how the education system in place is fashioned in the image of factory lines. Linearly, with separate facilities and departments, each year releasing batches of graduates. Standardized is the very heart of mass production.
Students should be individuals, allowed to live and learn naturally, using and developing their innate talents.
I love this video so much, because it reinforces so strongly some of my own tightly held beliefs. Firstly that school communities should be sustained by “aesthetic experiences,” in which the senses are operating at their peak. “We should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves.” Instead school too often intentionally dulls the senses for the sake of production.
Robinson also talks about “Divergent Thinking,” which he calls an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see many answers and interpretations. “How many uses can you think of for a paper clip?” Kindergartners are incredibly good at this, but by the time they’re ten, or worse fifteen, these abilities have atrophied and diminished. It’s been schooled out of them.
* * *
As I said before, standardization is crucial to factory lines, but aesthetic experiences and divergent thinking are the heart of mathematics. They’re particularly important for the actual doing of mathematics and other arts. Divergent thinking required for creativity, and creative analysis is mathematics.
How can I make my classroom and the school I’m a part of better places for young people to learn? I’ve had lots of ideas, some good, others weak. In order to answer these questions Saint Ann’s School encourages me to follow my conscience, free from standard. And so, I think constantly about my work and learn everyday.
I want every school to do this for its students.