Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ken Robinson: How to Change Education

I'm a huge fan of Ken Robinson and with the start of each new year, I try to ensure that all teacher candidates are familiar with his work. In this talk "How to Change Education" at the RSA July 2013 event, Robinson aims to move forward from his popular RSA Animate Changing Paradigms, to offer some views on how to improve education. 

Back to the Basics: this position tends to focus on WHAT - i.e. returning to an ideal group of most important subjects [today's version is STEM], however the basics for the purpose of education should be about WHY we do this.

1. ECONOMIC: to ensure future stability of individuals, need system that fosters adaptability and creativity. 
Robinson refers an IBM report on what businesses see as the 2 key issues:  i. Adaptability: ability to respond quickly to change [e.g. Kodak previously synonymous with photography now in bankruptcy; it could not adapt, so Instagram took over] Why? because organizations are more like systems than machines and need to adapt to survive; ii. Creativity: need fresh ideas [education currently squashes students' appetites for creativity]
2. CULTURAL: to help students understand how they came to think as they do, why their values are as they are, etc. and why other people's are different. i.e. need a broad education - arts, social studies, etc - not just technical subjects. [cultural competence?]
3. SOCIAL: to engage understanding of the processes by which our communities are organized and governed. Dewey reference: Every generation has to rediscover democracy. [encourage a participatory culture]
4. PERSONAL: to engage learning by supporting diversity: meeting individual needs, interest, differences, motivation, etc. [education as a human process]

Most political strategies start from top down, evidence shows opposite actually works.We can encourage from the top-down but improvements come from the bottom-up
Cant improve education by alienating the professionals that carry it out [e.g. vilifying teachers, administrators, teacher preparation]

Peter Brook (The Empty Space) purports that theatre can be a transformative experience. Going back to basics, need to ask, what do we mean by theatre? What is the foundation? What can you take a way and still have it?
-> an Actor in a space with an Audience [Don't need the other trappings, and should add nothing to it that doesn't help enhance the performer-audience relationship]

Analogy to Education?
Teacher and Learner at the heart of education. [our system obfuscates that relationship with other things]

Need to focus on teaching and learning to improve education 
- Children are born learning organisms - appetite dissipates when they enter formal education
- Teaching has become a delivery system for curriculum but in actuality, Teaching is an art form

Teachers hold the tools of power and can make/are making a change
Cultural Shift - school is a unique living organism, a community of reciprocating individuals with their own views, habits, cultures etc
Culture is a set of expectations and permissions
Need to concentrate on our own micro climate - our practice, our classroom, our school - within the context of a broader context/climate begins to affect the whole - basis of all social movements
Technology: key player in disruptive shift toward personalized learning 

Times Changes but Values Don't
Robinson argues Values DO change, from the bottom up by the act of people doing something differently and demanding something else 
[e.g. rock and roll was not a government plan, nor was the Internet.  iPhone in 2007 had 800 apps available now 750,000 - this was not initially thought up or created by Apple]

Human culture is unpredictable, and accumulates over the creative activities of individuals feeding off each other - organic growth
Need long term view [policy makers on short cycles aren't able to do this]
Shift of Metaphor - Factory Model to Systems Model 
System is already adapting

CHANGE happens through multiple points of leverage:
- Ground up: history shows that change if people start to do things differently, policy changes
- Top down: Government should not be looking to dominate or control but rather to help facilitate a climate for change and expectation . proper role
There isn't a single point of influence - change can be incremental or sudden

RSA Replay: How to Change Education [24 mins]

RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigm

Debbie Morrison blog - online learning insights, provides a good summary of Ken Robinson's Educause Fall 2013 talk called "Leading a Culture of Innovation" 

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