Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Ignore Talents?

Sir Ken Robinson on "Do schools ignores talents?". Here is a full transcribe of his interview with Aurora Velez.

Aurora: Sir Ken Robinson, in your latest book “The Element” you talk about our talents. Is the school killing them, in which way?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well! I would say schools sometime ignore them. Part of the argument of the book is, we all have very different talents and they show themselves in all sorts of different areas. For some people, it may be science or mathematics for other people may be dance or music. I see human talent like the earth’s natural resources. They may be there or may not have discover them or buried; you may have to work on to find them. 

Schools tend to focus on very narrow idea of ability, particularly sort of academic work, which is why students in schools spend most of the time in writing and sitting down. I am not saying these things are not important, but then not the whole of human talent so schools often ignore young people’s real talent. Therefore, they may not have discovered them. I think we do need revolution in education. So the change is beginning to happen and I think it will be faster. 

Aurora: Are teachers helping on that or not?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well! Some are. It’s a very complicated system. There are trends and patterns in different countries around the world. There are a lot of people in education in long time and they don’t necessarily see the need for change, necessarily feel very well equipped to bring the change. So I think this is a generational shift that will happen. I think this generation’s young people move through the system. You may well find how contextual change and they all have a different set of attitude and energies to bring to the shift.

Your creativity brings your imagination to work and sometimes, it’s an individual effort and sometimes it involves collaboration. It’s all most all ways involves being influenced by the people ideas one way another. Even people who work alone are usually conscious of other people worked in the same field. So, there is a kind of dialogue in lot of creative process, and where do it actually a dialogue like this or it’s a kind of internal conversation what people have already seen and experienced. I think innovation is putting good ideas into practice, and there is a huge area for innovation on how we organize schools internally. I mean, for an example- most school are still organized by subjects. They divide the day into small bits into forty to fifty minutes and they ring a bell in every fifty minutes.
I have said it recently; if you are running business like that you will be bankrupt in a week.  If you have 2000 employees and in every forty minutes they stop doing what they are doing and go to different room, something else for forty minutes with a different group of people and then repeat that six times a day; that is just demoralizing. You will never get anything done but we do in schools all the time. So I think if you organize school or learning communities around the nature of the tasks, it’s a different kind of dynamic. I mean, sometimes you have to spend all day on a project and sometime you just need fifteen minutes to do something in particular, at the moment, it’s all organized around the schedule, and we try to fit in everything else into it.

Sir Ken Robinson: A great teacher is like an alchemist. They can create wonderful things from what may seem as unpromising materials. But I believe all kids have great promise. It’s a job of education to help them to full fill it.

Aurora: But the fact is that a lot of students are leaving, there are a lot of dropout and then un-schooling and homeschooling systems are growing all over. What does it mean? Is the system sick?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well! You know if you are running a business and you lost 30 percent of your customer every year; you might think is it me and something wrong in me. If it’s a restaurant, it is it the food? And you won’t think it is stupid customers. You try and find out what it is that keeping people away. They don’t believe in basic story that if you work hard and go to college, you will get a job forever. Now there are thousands distractions and often also peer pressure. The whole thing now is being over laid with this dead culture standardization; it’s a very high pressure life. It’s not just the kids who leave we need to think about, it’s the ones who stay in, suffering from depression disengagement.

Aurora: Tests?

Sir Ken Robinson: Well! With all this I can only say you have to nuance the argument a little bit. I am not saying that tests are bad, I have never said it. I am not saying that people shouldn’t be made to work hard. The problem is where testing has become purpose of it all. For example the PISA result by OECD have come out, and they have interesting data worth looking out but to see education ministers around the world taking anti-depressants because they are too far down the list and another is bragging about. I am not critical of there being a data like this but just that people are being obsessed about it and it becomes the purpose of the exercise.

 This video was produced as part of our Learning World, a weekly program produced in partnership with Euronews. 


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