Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blog Post #12

What can We Learn from Sir Ken Robinson?

“The real role of leadership in education … is not and should not be command and control. The real role of leadership is climate control, creating a climate of possibility.”

                                                                                    ~ Ken Robinson

By: Amanda Weller, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Lisa Smith

In the video, Changing Education Paradigms Ken Robinson says that, “Every country on earth, at the moment, is reforming public education.” The first of many reasons is economics. People are attempting to work out the struggling question because we can't determine what the economy will look like in a few days. They're wondering
how to educate their children to take place in the economics of the 21st century. The second reason has to deal with cultural identity. Ken Robinson challenges the way children are being educated in his video. He talks about the way that we're educating our children. The system of education currently going on was designed for a different age. Mr. Robinson talks about how children are brought into ADHD because they're getting distracted by "boring stuff." He talks about how children are being medicated when teachers should be waking them up. Ken doesn't believe that students should be medicated. He believes that we should be changing education and doing away with standardized testing. Ken mentioned that standardized testing was designed for a different age. Children think differently than they did years ago. So many things have changed, but not education. The school system should constantly create creativity and acknowledge all kinds of learning.

By: Heather Smith, Briann Smith, Amanda Weller, and Lisa Smith

Mr. Robinson talks about the irony of “No Child Left Behind”. He said that this initiative actually leaves millions of children behind, how ironic is this? In some parts of the country, 60 percent of kids drop out of high school, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. What it doesn't count are all the kids who are in school but being disengaged from it, who don't enjoy it, who don't get any real benefit from it. And the reason is not that we're not spending enough money. America spends more money on education than most other countries, class sizes are smaller than in many countries, and there are hundreds of initiatives every year to try and improve education. The trouble is, it's all going in the wrong direction.There are three principles on which human life flourishes, and they are contradicted by the culture of education under which most teachers have to labor and most students have to endure.

1. Human beings are naturally different and diverse:
Education under No
Child Left Behind (NCLB) is not based on diversity, it’s based on conformity. One of the effects of NCLB has been to narrow the focus onto the so-called STEM disciplines- such as Math and Science. Mr. Robinson was not saying that they are not important, just that “they are necessary but they’re not sufficient”. He believes a real education has to give equal access to the arts, humanities, and physical education. Mr. Robinson taught me that children prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of talents. Take the arts, for instance, this is not just important because it improves children’s math scores, but it is important because it speaks to parts of children’s being that are otherwise untouched.
2. Curiosity:
If you can light a spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance. Children are natural learners, and curiosity is the engine of achievement. Mr. Robinson said that one of the effects of the current American culture has been to de-professionalize teachers. He said there is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Can we get an AMEN? (Sorry- we HAD to add that!) Teachers are the lifeblood of the SUCCESS of schools. But teaching is a creative profession. It’s not a delivery system- you’re not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers not only deliver information, but they also mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage students. At the end of the day, education is about LEARNING! If there’s no learning, there’s no education! And what, might you ask, is the role of a teacher? To FACILITATE LEARNING!!! Mr. Robinson also taught me that part of the problem is the dominant culture of education has come to focus on not teaching and learning, but testing. Testing is important, as he stated, but there is a place and time for everything. Standardized tests should not be the dominant culture of education. They should help, they should be diagnostic, and they should SUPPORT learning- they should NOT OBSTRUCT IT!!!
3. Human life is inherently creative:
We create our lives through this restless process of imagining alternatives and possibilities, and what one of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity. Mr. Robinson has taught me that instead of developing creativity, instead we have a culture of standardization. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. He used the example of Finland and how well the students do in math, science, and reading. He said the reason that Finland’s system works is simple: they do NOT obsess about “those” disciplines (math, science, reading)- they have a broad approach to education.
Mr. Robinson also taught us that all high-performing systems in the world currently do what is apparently inevident to the systems in America- they:
1. Individualize teaching and learning:They recognize that it’s students who are learning and the system has to engage them, their curiosity, their individuality, and their creativity.
2. Attribute a very high status to the teaching profession:They recognize that you can’t improve education if you don’t pick great people to teach and if you don’t keep giving them constant support and professional development. Investing in professional development is not a COST, it’s an INVESTMENT!
3. Devolve responsibility to the school level for getting the job done:Mr. Robinson said there is a big difference between going into a mode of command and control in education- this was probably the most influential part to me because if you think about it: it is teachers and students in a classroom, not a committee of legislature, it should be the teachers discretion to make the environment enriching and plausible!
The point Mr. Robinson was trying to make is very clear: education is not a mechanical system. It’s a human system. IT’S ABOUT PEOPLE!!! People who do or do not want to learn. Is school boring? Is it irrelevant? Is it at odds with someone’s life outside of school? These are the reasons for drop-outs. These are the trends of America. There are conditions under which people thrive, and conditions under which they don’t. It’s that PLAIN and SIMPLE! He said that we are all organic creatures and the culture of the school is absolutely essential. Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility, waiting for the right conditions to come about, and with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable. It happens all the time. You take an area, a school, a district, and change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners, you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate what they do- and schools that were once bereft spring to LIFE.
According to Robinson, Great leaders know this! The real role of leadership in education- on the national, state, and school levels- is not and should not COMMAND and CONTROL. The real role of leadership in education is CLIMATE CONTROL, creating a climate of POSSIBILITY! And if you do that, people will rise to it and achieve things that you completely did not anticipate and couldn’t have expected.
Mr. Robinson
ended with a magnificent quote from Benjamin Franklin: There are three sorts of people in this world: those who are immovable, those who are moveable, and those who move.” What does this mean? There are those who just don’t get it or don’t want to, those who see the need for change and are prepared to listen, and those who make things happen. If you encourage more people- that would be a MOVEMENT. If the movement is strong enough- that’s, in the best sense of the word, a REVOLUTION. And that’s what we NEED!

The Importance of Creativity
By:Briann Smith, Heather Smith, Amanda Weller, and Lisa Smith

In Ken Robinson's TED Talk, he gives an entertaining and inspirational speech on creating an education system that nurtures creativity instead of undermining the power of it. He begins his speech by describing the three themes that were running through the conference which are the extraordinary evidence of human creativity and the variety and range of it and how it has put us in a place where we do not know what’s
going to happen in the future. The third theme was that children have extraordinary capacities especially for innovation.  He says that he has interest in education and that he believes that everyone else does as well. Robinson says, this is partly because education is meant to take us into the unforeseen future. He says that all children have talent and that adults squander them. Robinson believes that now creativity is just as important as literacy is and that it should be treated with the same status. Through several funny stories involving children, he explains that children naturally take chances on things. They are not fearful of being wrong and they just go for it. He then explains that as adults most children lose this fearlessness and they become frightened of being wrong. Robinson then told the story of the conversation he had with Gillian Lynne,the choreographer of “Cats”. When she was a student in the 1930s, her teacher believed that she had a learning disorder because she kept fidgeting in class. Her mother to her to a specialist and instead of putting her on medication. The doctor saw that she was destined to be a dancer and defining moment put her on the path of dance. Robinson believes that the only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology,one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.  He says that our education system has mined our minds our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth for a commodity. Robinson explains that this will not serve us and we have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we are educating our children. He ends his speech by saying that we have to appreciate our creative capabilities for the richness they are and see our children for the hope they are. Robinson says that our task is to educate their whole being so that they will be prepared for the future. As future educators, it will be our job to teach children and prepare them for the world. As we learned from Ken Robinson, it is important that we cultivate our students imagination and creativity in the classroom and encourage them  to go for their dreams and goals no matter what. The children are our future and it is our job to prepare them and make sure that they are ready for it academically as well as creatively!

By: Lisa Smith, Briann Smith, Heather Smith, and Amanda Weller

Sir Ken Robinson begins his speech talking about how human resources are depleting stating that we make very poor use of our talents.  He references two types of people, the ones who divide the world into two groups and those who do not.  He adds that many people endure their jobs/profession rather than enjoying it. Education dislocates many people from their own personal talents.  We must personalize education to fit our individual students so that personal dreams can still be accomplished.  Our classrooms will be full of a diversity of talent and it is up to us as teachers to put each and every talent our students bring to the table to good use.  They must flourish in order to succeed. Robinson
talks about how the education system is geared more towards conformity, like a fast food or manufacturing company.  We must ask the question, does this feed the spirit, and if the answer is no, we should look for a better option.  We must move from the manufacturing industrial way to the agricultural way.  The agricultural way has human flourishing and ways of creating conditions under which the students will flourish.Sir Ken Robinson ends this video with a poem by W.B. Yeats and it was so touching that we felt compelled to share it first in this blog post. Robinson referred to “Children spread their dreams under our feet and we should tread softly.”  Our group found this quote to be one that we remember when we start our own classrooms.  Please see the following poem titled He Wishes For Cloths Of Heaven.

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven

By: William Butler Yeats

He Wishes For The Cloths Of Heaven                    
HAD I the heavens' embroidered cloths,  
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams
I have spread my dreams under your feet
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.


  1. Guys, this post is excellent!! Well done! Just be careful about the pronouns you use! If you all wrote this together, I should not see any "me"s or "I"s in there!

  2. Great post! As Rebecca said, I saw a couple of "me"s in the section "How to Escape Education's Death Valley". Other than that, it was very good! We can learn so many things from Sir Ken Robinson! I think your group took away many valuable lessons. Keep up the good work!