Too Late for Robinson’s Message of Creativity?

September 03, 2013 by John Andrew Williams

Of all the books that have affected the way that I think about education and the future of education in our culture. I believe that Ken Robinson’s book is fantastic, and no doubt, he is a gentleman and a scholar.

First, I want to applaud his creativity in putting together a book that tackles a tough subject with a lightness and levity in his writing. It’s as if he’s looking at the current morass of education and can smile lovingly upon the underachieving system that’s even underachieving at teaching purely academic content, which isn’t the most useful skills and knowledge to have anyway.

It’s like being awesome at trivia or doing calculus. Sure they are great skills to have, perhaps impressive at a party, but in the bigger picture, it’s much more useful to have knowledge about your own mind, your passion, and your creativity.

And the larger problem is that they system, whose highest accomplishment is to churn out students with 5′s on AP tests, aren’t even addressing the most important skills human beings can cultivate, namely creativity, empathy, and leadership.

Robinson’s book lays out a compelling reason for transforming education and is sure a kick in the butt to make something happen in education.

The downside to Robinson’s Book: The Future of Education?

Where this book is lacking is a clearer picture of how to achieve the results that he points out without individually tailoring each students path to their unique interest, which he does reference in this book and throughout his other books.

Near the end of the book, Robinson lays out a curriculum for the future of education and for schools (pages 217 to 283) that matches what’s currently being taught in school. It’s really no different. But he does laud the Blue School which emphasizes the core curriculum, but also offers an exploration of creativity.

I disagree that the future of education is going to include the same subjects that we are currently teaching. If we really are after a revolution in education, I think we need to look at the subjects that are being taught as well.

If we want to teach children to be more creative, then teach a class on creativity.

If we want children to be more empathetic, teach a class on empathy and how to be more empathetic.

I don’t think that Robinson takes his ideas to that final step and falls into the trap that many academics fall into: that we can still teach the same subjects but do it in a different way and we’ll get a different result.

True, I think changing the way that we teach and assess, including assessments in creativity, would change the game and be a welcome addition to what’s happening now.

But it’s not the full picture.

I think the schools such as Portland’s own Leadership and Entrepreneurship Public Charter High School speak to the changing of curriculum that also addresses the skills that Robinson write about in his book.

In Conclusion

I think Robinson’s book is truly fantastic in its premise of why education needs to change and the direction that it needs to go – at least in the outcomes that an education should strive for.

Also read: What Will Education Look Like in 100 Years?

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