The Ken Robinson effect.


Ken Robinson is coming to a town near you.

I wonder how many people actually agree with Ken Robinson – that schools are killing creativity. Going by the number of views of his Ted Talk on the topic, it would be safe to assume that it’s a lot. He gave that talk in 2006. I also wonder if the narrative has changed much since then. Maybe Ken has moved on. Maybe he really is promoting a full-bodied revolution of the education variety. Perhaps he is attempting to rally the troops towards taking on some meaningful action against the system. I suspect not though.

I anticipate the following scenario. Sir Ken tells teachers that the education system as it currently stands, is not fit for purpose. Teachers respond in affirmation and then head back to school and continue to deliver the same teaching programmes until they are directed to do otherwise. What specific action would he suggest that teachers take, anyway? Agreeing with a concept is the easy part. It’s what lies beyond that’s difficult.

Further down the page, the invitation holds another clue as to why I believe that it will take more than an audience with Sir Ken to create any significant change.

“With a change of government, the time could not be more perfect…”

To me, this statement reveals the single biggest barrier to achieving such a ‘critical’ goal of making schools a hive of creativity. That is, it’s the collective ‘deficit mindset‘ of teachers themselves that is holding things back. It’s just further evidence that education is being treated as a political issue rather than as an issue of policy and best practice. The NZ Curriculum offers a perfect foundation for a beautiful, joyful, successful education system; goals that are broad, simple, non-prescriptive. Hattie provides the template for delivering the goods. Creativity and academic achievement are not mutually exclusive.

So, check your mindset and get to work. Establish what you want to achieve. It could be, “I want all my students to be great readers.” If it’s not working, do something different. Just stop doing the same and expecting different results. You may find that you will have to do things that others are not. But the results will inspire you. Your students will thank you, even if your colleagues will not. If you are waiting for approval from an expert or the government of the day, I fear you will be waiting a long time.

Ease Education: Teaching at a human scale.

You can also find Ease Education on Facebook and Twitter.

2 thoughts on “The Ken Robinson effect.

  1. I always enjoying reading your posts!I especially like this one because it comes from an internal locus of control (what can I do to become a better teacher) rather than an external one (if only the school, principal, government, etc. would change).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dawn. I really appreciate the feedback. I think you make a good point. And I think Hattie’s research is imploring teachers to take responsibility by encouraging ‘meaningful learning conversations’ between teachers and with students. Unfortunately, those conversations are difficult to have. Because to do the best teaching will inevitably mean going against the received wisdom and familiar practices of the crowd. To do so results in the teacher being labeled as ‘disobedient’ and not a ‘team player’ etc. It’s hard to change that culture.


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