Back in 2006 Sir Ken Robinson gave a TED talk on creative education. As of this morning, the you tube video of that talk had been viewed over 32 million times by more than 300 million people. It is the most viewed TED talk in history. There’s a reason for that. In it and in his new book Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education Robinson goes back to the origins of the public school system and explains why the current model behaves how it does and what we need to do to change it.
His TED talk and subsequent interviews and now the book (Published April 22) gives insights into the problems with the design of the current educational systems that are instantly obvious once we’ve been exposed to them, yet we’ve never questioned them. One of the most strikig revelations was that there were no systems of public education around the world before the 19th century. they were all created in the ideals of the Enlightenment to meet the needs of industrialism. Robinson cites the grouping of cohorts by age, rather than skills or ability level, “as if we were going by date of manufacture,” and moving students in and out by ringing bells has a certain factory feel to it.
Standardization is the wrong way to go, he writes. We should be going in the direction of individualization, but there are powerful economic forces pushing us in the direction of standardization and testing. “ The testing and educational support industry is booming,” Robinson writes. “In 2013 it had combined revenues in the US alone of $16.5 billion. By comparison the entire US domestic cinema box office gross in 2013 was a little less than $11 billion and the National Football League is currently a $9 billion businesses.”
Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., is one of the world’s most influential educators. For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick, and is now professor emeritus. Listed by Fast Company as “one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation” and ranked among the Thinkers50 of the world’s top business thought leaders, he advises governments, corporations, and leading cultural insitiutions. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2003, but lives in Los Angeles, which he described as “only a short plane ride from America.”
The book is full of fascinating insights and is a powerful call to change a system that is not working. To listen to our interview, click on the grey podcast bar below