Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sir Ken Robinson's new book:'Creative Schools - Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up'.

Sir Ken Robinson's book is a must read if we want to bring education into the 21stC.

A must read for anyone who believes in an education system that aims at developing the gifts and talents of all students.

Read this article about Sir Ken's latest book

My plea is for creative teachers, particularly those in New Zealand, to share this with as many teachers and schools as they can because the message is so important. If we really believe in giving every student the opportunity to leave formal education with their love of learning intact  and with all their unique interests, gifts and talents identified and amplified then we really have no choice.

Excellent book.
And if you do pass this blog on also send the link to New Zealander David Hoods book  'The Rhetoric and the Reality'  which has the same message. It is time for change to start from the bottom up - that is  until we get a government that really understand about learning.

Sir Ken offers a real alternation to the current standardized, test orientated reform that  countries like New New Zealand have been implementing. The good thing is that New Zealand has not, as yet, gone as far down this standardized approach as Australia, the United Kingdom or the USA.

Sir Ken believes it is time to question the assumptions that underpin traditional education which he believes is now failing too many of our students. He writes that the current reforms, particularly  those that focus on introducing standards in literacy and numeracy based on
standardized testing  , are ironically limiting students with talents in other areas. As well many students currently  failing school often do well in real life - unfortunately not all .Many, sadly, blame themselves for their failure rather then the school system they were forced to comply with.

Current reforms are about standardization, competition and corporatism. (let alone the privatization of schools) - who supplies the tests determines the educations.

Instead of standardization, competition and corporatism, Sir Ken is calling for the personalisation of learning to uncover and amplify the talents of all students. 

So rather than having an 'achievement gap'  ( the 'one in five failing mantra')we need to see it as an 'opportunity gap' and provide educational experiences to motivate all students and not just the academic.

Sir Ken has worked with countries and states, as well as individual schools, to develop such a system. and he shares what he has found with readers.

He also makes the point that there are creative teachers in every school to make use of. He also encourages educators to visit and learn from the best of early education practitioners and then to ask what has happened to something that starts so well  and ends so badly for too many students..

His metaphor for education is not a industrial factory grading one, and sorting and grading students, but an organic living one - a system continually evolving and adapting to changing.
circumstances such as the transformational power of information technology.

He asks readers to consider how they would reinvent schooling and to challenge the taken for granted habits and organisation patterns and rituals that now currently limit students - the demeaning use of ability grouping and streaming is such areas.

 What are the dispositions future students will need? How best to organize schools to ensure all students leave with their love of learning intact and their talents developed? Perhaps it is this
thinking that underpins the 'modern learning environments' that are the latest idea - an idea that requires  personalized pedagogy if they are to be successful,

A personalized pedagogy demand that we value the questions, feelings and 'inner voice' of all students; something that creative teachers, past-and present, have always known. 'Profound things happen', writes Sir Ken, 'when students are given room to explore their own interests and capacities'. Children have a powerful innate ability to learn and Sir Ken outlines alternative schools that have 'recovered' students who, through formal education,  had lost the will to learn.

In New Zealand we at least have the 2007 New Zealand Curriculum to inspire us ( 'every student a seeker, user and creator of their own knowledge') and are also fortunate that we haven't gone so far down the standardized testing road as such countries as the UK, Australia and  the USA. But there is no time to waste.

Sir Ken sees teachers as artists assisting their students to develop the skills and talents required for their future success in contrast to currently demeaning compliance demands to 'deliver' the

Teachers need to create provocative learning environments to tap into their students curiosity; to engage, inspire and enthuse them. No exceptions.

 Stimulating learning means keeping students curiosity alive. It means helping students surprise themselves with the quality of what they didn't think they could achieve. It's about relationships and expectations. About students working with their teachers and their peers to complete exciting integrated learning projects -  at all all levels of schooling.

Sir Ken believes in students being helped to do their best in whatever areas of learning they are involved in - something anyone involved in any form of creative endeavor knows well.  He is also supportive of students being given time to complete work of real  depth and quality.

 I enjoyed his thoughts on 'slow education' which he says is  about individualizing the process, about allowing the space and time to discover students' passions and strengths. Slow learning is about 
doing fewer things well.

The future is about creativity, imagination and innovation. 

Imagination is the root l..of innovation; creativity is putting imagination to work and innovation is putting new ideas into action.

 Creative learning is about enlightened trial and error - about learning through giving thing go. Creativity is being prepared to end up where you didn't mean to go - it is about refining, testing, making new connections and keeping what works. It requires discipline and control. All learning is 'driven by appetite for discovery'..... 'And if you don't trust kids to be natural learners, your not going to get there'.

And this means trusting school and in turn teachers.

 Success is to be judged by what the students can achieve as shown in their finished work, displays, exhibitions and learning( electronic) portfolios. The wrong sort of assessment ( as now seen in schools ) can kills such learning. Current testing measure little of what is important and has a negative effect on both learning and teaching.

Creative teaching requires principals and teachers to operate from a different sense of what education should  and could be, and a different interpretation of success.

Creative teaching is not easy. It means challenging conventions and ingrained habits but it is a task that is worth the effort. Sir Ken's book is full of inspiring examples  to learn from  but their is no one way to success.

'How quickly schools will change will depend, in large part, on the vision of the people who run them, especially the principals, on how they set expectations, and where they draw the lines of permission' . 

The first thing is to get clear on what you want for your children and then to create a positive learning environment for all.

The role of a creative leader', Sir Ken writes, ' is not to have all the ideas; it is to encourage a culture where everyone has them'.

We don't want your ( right wing) mind conyrol

Ideally such creativity ought to be  encouraged by the policy makers but we haven't time to wait for them. We need to start revolutionizing education 'from the ground up'. Class by class if necessary.

This is why it is important to share Sir Ken's book with other like minds.

My advice is to buy the book,get inspired and join the revolution and at the very least to search out the creative teachers in your own school

Pass on this information about Sir Ken's book now.

Further Reading:


Anonymous said...

I also enjoy Sir Ken Robinson and have read his books and watched his inspirational video presentations. I do worry that although his ideas are well received I wonder how many of his transformational ideas are actually put into practice. Sir Ken is not about tweaking and tinkering with the system as is current practice - he is asking for courageous change.

I can see that his thoughts resonate with the ideas you have done your best to spread over the years and through your blog

Do you feel that there is any possibility of schools really changing? Primary schools seem much as they always have been - in many respects less creative than they once were and secondary school, well, it seems, they are just too hard to change.

And I am not aware of many principals, let alone teachers, sticking their heads above the parapets!

What are your thoughts?

Bruce Hammonds said...

I think the truth is that people enjoy and agree with Sir Ken very few actually put his ideas into practice. It is the old rhetoric to reality problem. So this makes transformational change problematic particularly with a NZ government with a standardization agenda and far too many compliant principals and teachers

It is great to read, or listen, to Sir Ken because his ideas are so aligned with my own

I gad hoped to meet Sir Ken at a big conference held in Palmerston North in 2011. We were both to give keynote presentations but unfortunately he was ill and couldn't make it - gave his address through cyberspace! He was still brilliant - even took questions from the floor! It, was for me, to be my last presentation. Now I am just a blogger.

The thing that is required is for creative teachers to link up - hard in our devolved system.

I live in hope - encouraged by people like Sir Ken who belive transformational change is on the horizon.