Friday, October 22, 2010

My pick for video of the week: Thoughts on education from Sir Ken Robinson

Janine and I really enjoyed Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk about education and creativity.

I was excited to find Sir Ken Robinson had recently given another talk on education and creativity. A version of the highlights with animation takes eleven minutes:

This is very powerful. The video has only been up for eight days and already has almost 400,000 views.

Sir Ken Robinson has some strong words against ADHD. For example he says "We are getting our children through education by anaesthetizing them." He shows a picture of the incident of ADHD in the United States and makes an interesting observation: "ADHD increases as you travel East across the country." (Check at about 5:10 in the video.)

In addressing how the current public school system is modeled after 18th century factors he says school seem to think that "The most important thing about children is the date of manufacture."

Sir Ken Robinson makes many, many good points. A major theme through out his speech is that one of the fundamental problems with government schools is the basic approach, how it is based on a factor model of treating children like raw material that needs to be turned into finished problems.

However, Sir Ken Robinson seems to believe public schools can be "fixed." For decades thousands of people have tried to reform and improve public schools and they have only gotten worse. I don't have faith that public schools can be fixed, without some major changes like getting rid of the involvement of the Federal government and having true vouchers with no strings attached.

His full speech was almost an hour.

I watched it. He makes a few additional points in this video. If you have the time, it is worth watching.

Note that while the long speech has been up since February of 2010, it only has 18,000 hits. The animation of the first video makes it much more powerful. If you plan to make a point you might consider trying to do more than just talk and show a few slides.

If you are interested in more about Sir Ken Robinson's thoughts you might check out his books Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative or The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.


Jehu said...

You could fix public education so that it'd provide at least as good of a quality of education as the median homeschooler gets (at least from a purely secular metric). Thankfully they'll never do it and will continue to suck. Here's what you'd need to do:
1) Use psychometrics and streaming aggresively to insure that within each class you've got no more than 1 standard deviation of ability between the top and bottom. Totally discard the notion of grades by age. Extend this in ALL areas, including physical education.
2) In classes that require it, use disciplinary measures that would be termed 'fascist'. In classes that do not, use a lighter hand. Abandon all notion of 'fairness' as it is presently understood.
3) Decapitate all administration levels beyond the individual school, and reduce the administration there also. Make the principal fire at will for the local elected school board. Give the principal fire at will for all of his subordinates for any reason whatsoever.
4) Insofar as is possible, separate the test function (testing at midterm and final) from the teaching function (instruction and minor evaluation via homework/quizzes and the like)
5) Encourage students to take classes of a level of rigor that they'd be challenged to make a B in. Report out only final results beyond the school (i.e., percentiles on various final evaluations taken on graduation in each subject area). Otherwise having to report GPA externally will distort your incentive structure. If anything, kids who've never failed a class and had to drop to the next lower one should be mocked as being too cowardly.
6) Use the massive amount of money you've saved by the administrative decapitation to ensure that you've got some teachers that are actually capable of meaningfully teaching your +3 and +4 sigma kids (if you're more than a sigma lower in general intelligence than your student, you're a seriously suboptimal instructor---this is one of the hidden advantages of homeschoolers, the high correlation of intelligence between instructor and student).

Thankfully, the US will never do this in their public schools. Were they to do so, the prospects against the spiritually poisonous indoctrination in said schools would be very dim indeed.

jugglingpaynes said...

I am up way too late because I cannot resist listening to a Sir Ken speech! Thank you for posting these, I wasn't aware of them.

I've read The Element and I've been pushing it on my friends and family. It's a wonderful book.

Peace and Laughter!