Education: The Need For A New Model In Education (Sir Ken Robinson)

Education: The Need For A New Model In Education (Sir Ken Robinson)


This article is a verbatim of Sir Ken Robinson speaking in the following youtube video. This is my personal effort to change the education system.

The existing job market globally is a creation of the industrial revolution era. The traditional education system that we have had evolved into a global channel for producing workers for businesses.  This system is biased because it benefits those lucky to be in or get into the top of society as they got the rest of the working population working for them.

As we turned into twenty first century, the millenials are faced with grave challenges. Many of these challenges can be traced to the “progress and leaps” of the 18th to 20th centuries brought about by businesses. We need to overhaul, replace or revamp the education and set our sights on the exploration, development and enablement of the abilities, strengths and interests of our children and ourselves so we may rise to face and tackle these challenges. Mother Nature can decide that it does not need mankind anymore. The Covid-19 pandemic is just a warning. What good would be to continue education the way it is when this is more urgent?

The Need For A New Model In Education

Video: Sir Ken Robinson – The Need For A New Model In Education

“When I say that kids love to learn, children are really extraordinary learning machine organisms, I mean think what they do in the first couple years of life. They learn to speak, for example which is the most fantastic accomplishment and nobody teaches them how to do it. You simply could not teach your child to speak.

It is far too complicated and you know that you would have the time and they would not have the patienceif you know that you do not set your child down at the age of 18 months and say “Look, you probably noticed that your mother and I be making all these noises for the past eighteen months. Well, these are some of the names of things. We call them nouns and you need to learn about 5,000 of them in the next couple of years. Other sounds are things that you can do with things. We call them verbs. And if you change th noise you make a little bit, you can say what you are planning to do with these things and what you have done with these things in past and do not worry about the subjuntive, it is too complicated.”.

Now, it does not work that way at all. Kids absorb language through their skin. They may absorb several languages. The they may absorb several languages. I am sure that in some of yours systems, you know many examples of kids who speak four or five languages maybe because they were brought up with them. So kids have tremendous appetite to learn.

The problem it seem to develop when we send them to school. I am not speaking critically of individual schools or teachers at all but there is something in the rhytms of education. Something in the systems that we have created that eventually start to wear away at kids curiousity. They are wear away of their motivation and their appetite for learning. And so you find that by the time that they leave elementary school . Certainly, by the time they are in secondary school, many kids are disengaged, bored by what is happening and they far too often suffer from stress and end up leaving the system entirely. Now I think that these have been long term problems in school the curriculum and how we think about teaching and learning but they have been made very much worse in my view anyway in recent years by the emphasis on competition and standardisation that has swept many education systems.

Most systems are now being reformed. It is a global movement. Pasi Sahlberg whom I am delighted to know as part of this initiative refers this very wittingly as the global education reform movement or germ and it certainly seems to be contagious.System after system as adopted aproaches to school improvement based on competition, standardization and testing and the evidence is that it does not work very well even if it works at all for the things that it has been targeted on. The U.S. for example, has spent billions of dollars literally on commercial testing programs over the 50 years and seen no improvements ready to speak of in there as the tests have been directed  to.

I think this is a failed experiment and we should recognize that and understand that it is based on a false premise. It is based on the premise that education is some way still a impersonal process that can be improved by standardizing and removing the human factor. An the truth is that it simply cannot be. So I believe that we need to make a big shift in the way that we think about education and it has been big implications for policy.

When I say say there has been an industrial elemnt to education, let me be a bit more specific. I talked about this at some length in a book that I have published last year called “Creative Schools”. I wrote the book incidentally because I had a lot of responses to I gave at the TED conference about ten years ago and people say we like what you say there but some people say thay you did not tell us what we should do about it. But I have a number of responses. One of them is it was 18 minutes you know. Give me a break but there is a lot to say about how schools are changing, how they should change and how they can be helped to change and we have some leading experts in these processes as part of this initiative. The big shift I think has to go from education as a industrial process to an organic one. Let me say what I mean by that.

Education systems, for the most part, grew up within the industrial revolution and they shared some of the features of industrial production. They are standardised. They are based on conformity. They are very linear in the way that they operate but I think the real metaphor is not so much with the industrial manufacturing as with industrial agriculture. Industrial agrculture also developed during the industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially. And it was made possible by three developments. One of them was mechanization which made it possible for the first time to cultivate vast tracks of land very quickly comparatively and to turn them over to single crops so monoculture became a big piece of this you know. So there were cabbages as far as the eyes can see. You see potato plants as far as you can see.

You could see bananas as far as you can see. Previously, we have mixed crops and rotational systems. The second big innovation in industrial agriculture was the development of chemical fertilisers whick make things grow bigger, faster would apply the same principle to the industrial growth of animals. We have been pumping them full of hormones and one of the reasons for this and the fact that we could was in industrial systems, the emphasis is on yield or output on quantity as much as quality and the third development was pesticides because thee systems for most part was deprived of the natural process of self protection. So, pesticides were needed to keep away pests and so on and to protect the crops.

Now it kind of worked, except that it is destroying the environment. It is polluting water systems and it is eroding topsoil. And this is really important I think because the emphasis in agricultural systems in the industrial revolution turned to output and to the plant. The price that we have pay is the erosion of soils.

Organic farming is based on the opposite principles.Organic farmers promote diversity. They look at the health and ecology of the whole system but the emphasis is on the soil so if you got the soil right the plants will grow and be healthy and these are sustainable and natural processes. Well I think what has happened in our education systems is that we became pre-occupied with the yield and output in just the same way that we have in industrial processes with data driven outcomes and along the way, we lost sight of the natural processes of teaching and learning. And in doing that we eroded the culture of education, the cultcure of learning.

So I think we need to change metaphor and see education as a human process where children and students flourish under certain sorts of conditions and our job is to create those conditions in schools. What that means and what I try to argue in greater schools is that we need to get back to basic. As we keep saying, we need to look at how children learn, why they learn, what they should learn and than look at creating optimum conditions ans schools where they want to learn and where teachers are enabled to help them to do that. That is an ecosystem. Our job is to facilitate, learning, to encourage teachers in their roles of doing that. The role of a school is to create a climate where students and teachers together can achieve that. The role of districts and nations is to create an overall political climate where those conditions are encouraged.

In other words, the real shift in education has to come from the ground up as well as in the top-down. And unlike GERM where the emphasis is on command and control, I think our emphasis has to be on climate control. We are living in a world where the climate is changing physically around us. We need another cultural climate in education where we could deal with these changes to make most of our natural resources. That is what Quaker schools is about. It is what I think the big shift has to be and it is why I am so excited to be involved in this whole process from the Atlantic Rim. I think that there is a big opportunity here, not just the systems that take part as I say but to inspire a different way of thinking about education globally and that is the excitement and the challenge of this initiative.”