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Sir Ken Robinson On Changing Education Paradigms


Every country on earth now is reforming public education. There are two reasons for it. The first one is economic. We can’t anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week as the recent turmoil is demonstrating. The second though is cultural. Every country on earth is trying to figure out how we can educate our children so that they have a sense of cultural identity and pass on the cultural genes of our communities.


RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms


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Education System

The problem is that the current system of education was designed and conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution.  Our children are living in the most intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth. They are being besieged with information and parse their attention from every platform, computers, from iPhones, from advertising from hundreds of television channels. And we are penalizing them for getting distracted.

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Science And Math.

The Arts especially address the idea of Aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak. When you’re present in the current moment. When you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing. When you are fully alive. And aesthetic is when you shut your senses off, and deaden yourself what’s happening. We’re getting our children through education by anaesthetizing them. We should be doing the exact opposite. We shouldn’t be putting them asleep, we should be waking them up, to what they have inside of themselves.


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Divergent Thinking

Divergent thinking isn’t the same thing as creativity. Creativity is the process of having original ideas which have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym, but it’s an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question. Lots of possible ways of interpreting a question. To think not just in linear or convergent ways but to see multiple answers and not one. You start off not being very good but you get better as you get older. It shows us 2 things: One is we all have this capacity, and Two: It mostly deteriorates.


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A lot have happened to these kids as they grown up, a lot. But one of the most important things that happened is that by now they’ve become educated. They spend 10 years in school being told there is one answer, it’s at the back, and don’t look. And don’t copy because that’s cheating. Outside of school that’s called collaboration but inside schools it isn’t because teachers wanted this way. It’s just because it happens that way. It’s because it’s in the gene pool of education.


We should think different about human capacity. We should get over this old conception of academic, non-academic. Abstract, theoretical, vocational and see it for what it is: A Myth. Second, we should recognize most great learning happens in groups. That collaboration is the stuff of growth. If we atomize people and separate them a judge them separately, we form a kind of disjunction between them and their natural learning environment. And thirdly, it’s crucially about the culture of our institutions. The habits of institutions and the habitats that they occupy.


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