Always enjoy Ken Robinson's talks. Concerned though that progress in education seems to be so terribly slow, especially in this part of Europe. I've seen some excellent experiments where students were set homework which involved looking at great lectures on line (from MIT, Stanford and TED) and this was then discussed in class the following week. Unfortunately those experiments were not here. As Ken points out,
Education under No Child Left Behind is based on not diversity but conformity. What schools are encouraged to do is to find out what kids can do across a very narrow spectrum of achievement. One of the effects of No Child Left Behind has been to narrow the focus onto the so-called STEM disciplines. They're very important. I'm not here to argue against science and math.
On the contrary, they're necessary but they're not sufficient. A real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education.
One estimate in America currently is that something like 10 percent of kids, getting on that way, are being diagnosed with various conditions under the broad title of attention deficit disorder. ADHD. I'm not saying there's no such thing. I just don't believe it's an epidemic like this. If you sit kids down, hour after hour,doing low-grade clerical work, don't be surprised if they start to fidget, you know?
Children are not, for the most part, suffering from a psychological condition.They're suffering from childhood.
And I know this because I spent my early life as a child. I went through the whole thing. Kids prosper best with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. And by the way, the arts aren't just important because they improve math scores. They're important because they speak to parts of children's being which are otherwise untouched.
The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity. If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners. It's a real achievement to put that particular ability out, or to stifle it.
Curiosity is the engine of achievement. Now the reason I say this is because one of the effects of the current culture here, if I can say so, has been to de-professionalize teachers.There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers.Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools. But teaching is a creative profession.Teaching, properly conceived, is not a delivery system. You know, you're not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage. You see, in the end, education is about learning. If there's no learning going on, there's no education going on. And people can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning. The whole point of education is to get people to learn.
Full transcript of the talk is below.