Wednesday, September 11, 2013
How Was School Today, Dear?
Ken Robinson, an "educationalist," gave a TED talk in May, 2013, called "How to Escape Education's Death Valley." TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conferences bring together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes or less). If you haven't watched them, you are in for such a treat!
In this talk, KR says there are three conditions under which human life flourishes and they are contradicted every day in every classroom. The first is: human beings are naturally different and diverse. Rather than teach to have each student passionately explore his or her special talents and interests, we teach for conformity. All across the nation, if it's January we are learning facts about the American Revolution. Never mind that your son has just discovered the wonders of astronomy and doesn't want to read, talk, or take a test about anything else. He will have to wait . . .
Second, all humans are naturally curious and that makes us natural learners. Have you ever spent a day with a 3-year old? How many questions did you answer? My granddaughter is four, and the phrase she uses most often is "How Come?" But our schools want to achieve compliance. The present system was originally proposed by Horace Mann to educate workers for the industrial age. It was beneficial to have hordes of compliant workers standing at assembly lines. In the information age, we need innovators, creative thinkers.
The third principle is that human beings are inherently creative; we create our lives, and in spite of the culture of education that strives to turn out finished students who all know the same body of knowledge and have the same values, we are still all individuals. The culture of standardization is opposed to basic human nature, which may be one reason it isn't working very well.
Tomorrow we will talk about "Unschooling."