Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Schools

I am a big fan of Sir Ken Robinson and have been so since I first came across his talk on TED of Feb 2006 (which I had blogged in September 2006). Here’s a treat for those who have not watched that performance — and I say performance advisedly as he could be a stand-up comic any day of the week.

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

One of the many important point he makes is that the current school system kills creativity. In a more recent talk, he goes into how the current school paradigm needs change. That topic is of enduring interest of this blog. So below the fold, you will find the video (hat tip, Nihar G.)

http://www.i2ic.com/clientsarea/rsa/player2.swf?filename=lectures/sir-ken-robinson&filmed=June%202008&posted=June%202008&autoplay=false

Once again, Sir Ken Robinson is entertaining while instructing. He cracked me up with his ” . . . as if we were refugees from Riverdance . . .” (around the 11:50 mark.) It’s a nearly an hour long video but I think it is worth watching, if for nothing else but to learn how to keep the audience engaged by interspersing serious bits with lighthearted irony. The English are masters of irony and understatement.

The serious point he makes — and which I too have been saying for a while — is that the system is broken and needs to be radically changed, not just patched up because it needs foundational change. Fortunately for India, most of India’s children are not even in the broken legacy system, and therefore a new system would not have the difficult task of extracting them from the old to fit them into the new. These children could (to use the hackneyed expression) leapfrog the broken system and get a decent education.

Post Script: I neglected to point out that in this talk, he observes that imagination is the one faculty that sets us apart from other creatures on earth. I could not agree more. It brought to mind J K Rowling’s speech which I had posted about last year June in the blog post “On Failure and Imagination

Given a time machine or a Time Turner, I would tell my 21-year-old self that personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.

You might think that I chose my second theme, the importance of imagination, because of the part it played in rebuilding my life, but that is not wholly so. Though I will defend the value of bedtime stories to my last gasp, I have learned to value imagination in a much broader sense. Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

If you think about it, most if not all failures, are the result of failures of imagination. Failure of a society to develop (economically or otherwise) is a failure of imagination. You can make it big only if you think big and make no little plans.

Author: Atanu Dey

Economist.

One thought on “Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Schools”

  1. Atanu

    Thanks for pointing to the video. Being a father now, I appreciate it all the more. Watching a small child grow absorbing everything around is fun. And then to think that we might be blunting the potential thru our old education ways is painful.

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