Thursday, February 15, 2007
Out of Our Minds
A book to read for all who believe in creative education. 'Out of Our Minds' by Sir Ken Robinson. Introductory keynote speaker at the 07 NZPPF Conference to be held in Auckland.
See an earlier blog October 30 for a review of the book. And also Feb 14th
This will be my last blog until about the 8th March as I am off for a holiday in Vietnam. I have become slightly addicted to writing my blogs so I will miss the discipline of posting them.
I couldn't think of a better blog to leave you with ( I guess the odd person actually reads them!) than this one about Sir Ken Robinson. I highly recommend you read his book or at least view his amazing video talk.
The video talk will have you laughing as well as seriously reflecting that our education system as currently structured is harming far too many creative students. Decide for yourself after viewing. If you go to the TEDTalk site ( you can 'google' this phrase) and then look for Sir Ken's video clip
Below are a few thoughts from one of his talks I tracked down.
Sir Ken believes that today businesses have to be competitive by developing innovative ideas and continually adapting to constant change. Increasingly such businesses are finding it hard to find creative people. The reason for this ironically, according to Sir Ken, is our current education system. All over the world , he believes, education suppresses creative thinking and creativity . National strategies to raise standards are making maters worse because they are rooted in an old economic model and a narrow view of intelligence, focusing too much on literacy and numeracy. He strongly believes that creativity should be promoted systematically at all levels of education.
I couldn't agree more.
National systems, he goes on to say, were designed to develop conformity and developed out of the 18th and 19th centuries to meet the needs of the industrial economies which typically needed workforce that was roughly 80% manual and 20% professional. Such schools prioritized the subjects they felt most important for the professional students who went on to secondary education; focusing on maths,literacy and the sciences.The system worked well enough in its day.Those students who had manual jobs received a very basic education premised on values of tidiness, punctuality, and obedience.
While the world has changed out of site little has changed in our our schools.
Two factors demand that schools change, he says, the emergence of the knowledge economy and the demand for creative intellectual labour. And it is not that there are not enough graduates to go around as students stay longer at school to gain qualifications - it is that they too many of them can't communicate,work in teams, or think creatively.
When you visit a secondary school you can see why - student work individually gaining credit by regurgitating knowledge transmitted to them by their teachers.
We need to challenge three misconceptions passed on to us by schools, says Sir Ken.The first is the myth that only special people are creative when it is now believed that we all have profound creative abilities. The second is the myth that creativity is restricted to the creative arts when it is now believed that creativity is part of every aspect of our lives. The third is that you are either creative or you are not when it is now believed everyone can be helped to develop their creativity.
Creativity, Sir Ken continues, is the process of having original ideas: innovation is putting them into practice. Human creativity is complex and dynamic.'That is why',he says, 'the world is full of music, dance, architecture,design, practical technology and values. Different people have different creative strengths- in music,or mathematics, or working with clay, or software, or images, or with people.'
'Real creativity comes from finding your medium, from being in your element'. And by seeing connections between different fields - hard when they are taught separately!
It is all about finding your passion - hardly what are current achievement orientated school are all about! No wonder so many students leave feeling failures - when it should be the schools who ought to be seen as failing.
If schools want to develop creativity in all their students and staff they need to consider three factors according to Sir Ken. Habits how people relate and work with each other; habitats - the physical environments in which they work; and the operating systems - the management processes that support the school. Each , he says, can inhibit creativity and each can be changed to promote it.
The lack of creative individuals entering our workforce, he sees, relates to the lack of creative confidence and capability originating in our schools.
The challenges of reforming education, he concludes, are profound and need long term collective action; the stakes are high and the need urgent.
This revolution is comparable to the industrial revolution and it is hardly begun. The changes, he says, are essentially cultural and impact on every aspect of our lives and how we relate to one another. We need to expect that education will give people the skills and qualities they need for this new world. This cant be , he says, be just about raising standards - this is no good if they are the wrong standards.
What we need , he feels, is a national and international debate on education to inform long term strategic vision. The best companies do this but to few schools.
Education, he reminds us, is often said to be the key to the future but keys can be turned in two directions - turn the key one way and you lock yourself in the past; turn it another way and you face an exiting future.
It is no longer enough to read, write and calculate . We won't survive the future by doing better at what we have done in the past.
In the future we must learn to be creative.
I couldn't agree more! It is not our students who are failing- it is our 'one size fits all' academic education system
To get his message, with humour, view the video clip.