I really enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's video How To Escape Education's Death Valley. He discusses learning in America and how even though we put enough money and time into teaching, it's not the most successful way of allowing our students to learn. I was literally laughing out loud when Robinson was discussing ADHD (not because I think the diagnosis is funny for any child to have, I just couldn't agree more). He says that he knows it exists, but that just because a child is hyperactive doesn't mean they should be put on medicine to be calm. I agree with him: any child that you make sit in a classroom for hours at a time is going to get bored and lose concentration! With that being said, why don't we make the students' learning exciting and try not to let them get bored?
Another analogy he used was curiosity being like the engine of a jeep. I learned that curiosity is so important for the teacher to possess as well as the students. Students can thrive off of curiosity and therefore willingly learn more. I never thought about it, but learning and education are two different things. Robinson says you can talk about education without talking about learning. Just because a teacher is in a classroom "teaching", does NOT mean the students are learning. We've been talking about standardized tests in a lot of my classes lately. There is a time and place for standardized tests. They should not be used on a daily basis; just for diagnostics. I agree with this for many reasons, but especially because not all students are good at taking tests. So, just because a student doesn't do well on a standardized tests means they don't understand something? FALSE.
At the end of the video Robinson describes what he means in his title by "death valley". Death Valley is a desert by his house that nothing grows on. It doesn't get any rain, therefore it has no grass, trees, flowers, etc. But, when it did rain, flowers grew! Death Valley is like our students' learning. If we don't teach them anything and give them a learning atmosphere, then they won't learn anything. If we do, then they will grow in their education and learn. I can't wait to have a classroom and try to apply the things I've learned in EDM310 from people's blogs and videos to my own students!
What can we learn from Sir Ken Robinson?
Changing Education Paradigms
In the video Changing Education Paradigms Sir Ken Robinson he asked two questions. The first is "How do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century, given that we cannot anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of the next week?" The second question he asks is "How does a country educate children to also have cultural identity while also being part of globalization"? I enjoyed this video very much. It shows how public education became what it is today. "The current system was designed and conceived for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and in economic circumstance of Industrial Revolution." The current system divides students into the academic and non academic categories, which makes many brilliant people believe that they are not smart. I believe this is very true. If a student does not make good grades the stdent often believes that means the student is not smart. If a student is discouraged they begin to shutdown and do not want to go to school. Sir Ken Robinson makes a great point that the school system needs to get away from standardization and go to divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is the essential capacity for creativity and to see multiple answers-not just one. I think this is a great idea because divergent thinking teaches students to use their minds and their creativity rather than just using their memorization. Sir Ken Robinson also gives a great example of how the public education system is failing. In his example, 1500 kindergarteners were given a test to measure divergent thinking. 98% of those students scored in the Genius level. The same test was given the the same children when they were 8-10 years old, and again at age 13-15. The results were that the scores continuously deteriorated. I was amazed by the results of the test. It shows that as children get further along in their education their divergent thinking skills begin to suffer. This is because they have been taught that there is only one correct answer. This video opened my eyes to the problems of how students are being taught in the education system. I think any person that is wanting to become a teacher should watch this video.
Ken Robinson is an author and educator. He led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, and was knighted for his work. We can learn so much from Sir Ken Robinson in his 2006 TED talk on The Importance of Creativity. Although he talks on a variety of points, one in particular caught my attention. He said,
There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting? Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.
After hearing this, I began thinking of all the schools I attended throughout my life. That is twelve schools to be exact. I came to the conclusion that not one of them encouraged me to get up and dance, do something creative, or anything else outside of academics. I thought why is this? Who decided that math, science, and english were the most important subjects? I later learned that our educational system was made to suite the needs of the industrial revolution. A time when people were focused on manufacturing. Public schools began preparing students for jobs by focusing on math, science, and other subjects that were deemed important. Likewise, little time was spent letting students use their creativity in art, drama, or music. Society did not care at this point in time if you could paint or do something extraordinary with your creativity. They wanted someone to be able to work machines and understand how to fix them.
Even today, our education system remains much the same as it was during this time. Students spend minimal time in classes such as art, drama, and other creative thinking based classes. Sir Ken Robinson is absolutely correct when he says that schools are killing out creativity. As young children we probably look like this little boy a lot, or at least I did. Covered in head to toe in whatever I was doing. Most time it was dirt.
Then we start going to school, where teachers only want one answer. The textbook, burp back answer. It does not matter if you see a color as being salmon, but if a teacher says it is pink then you are supposed to see it as pink as well. We tell children they are wrong, when in fact they could very well be right. Who is to say their perception is wrong? Instead of accepting their ideas, we break them, and turn them into robots by teaching them only to see what we want them to see. I learned from Sir Ken Robinson that we need to stop this negative stigma of being wrong, and let children discover and learn through their own eyes. Allowing them to keep their creativity and imagination.