Sir Ken Robinson is an inspirational educator and leader. Every time I hear him speak, it sparks a literal lightbulb in my head. Everything that I think and believe is spelt out in a way that simply makes sense. I watch him with envy – I wish I could get my ideas across in such a clear way.
In a parent information session earlier this year, we used parts of his infamous TED talk to do just that. The clip focused on the debate as to whether schools in the current era foster or kill creativity in our students. The notion that the purpose of schooling is to find and cultivate talents in our students sparked a conversation in our community that is evolving each day. How do we help our students understand their interests and passions? How do we nurture their talents?
Education is one of the few professions that every individual has had some experience with. Our perceptions of schooling are somewhat shaped and influenced by our own experiences of education when we were young. Whether they were positive or negative, our memories pervade our opinions and expectations of what it means to receive an education, and what it means to go to school.
This idea has made be think about the generational gap between students and their parents. In the current age, there are so many pressures on our parent community ensure that they are informed and understand what it means to raise young children. As we meet new families of budding preppies, I am therefore curious about the expectations that new parents hold about schooling ? Are they shaped in a positive or negative way? How do their own experiences impact on their ideas and are they also in line with new ideologies, advances and changes that have dramatically transformed the landscape of education.
We all know that the world is a vastly different place from the one we grew up in. Communication, transport, entertainment, industries have all evolved and grown with the needs of society, and indeed so has education. How therefore, do schools tackle the complex challenge of educating communities about the ways in which we should educate our young, and challenge preconceptions about what we should be doing each and every day.
In ‘the changing paradigm’, Sir Ken Robinson questions the way in which we educate society and the extent to which we are simply holding onto previous infrastructures and practices. As educators of digital natives, his questions and comments give an insight into the things we take for granted. The industrialised concept of educating ‘ages in cages’ – similar aged children in four walls with one teacher – is something which many are striving to move away from. Educating individuals, fostering their interests, talents and passions is a focus for many schools as we aim to develop a sense of self and ones interaction with others and their world.
However – are we always practising what we preach?
There are so many factors that threaten to impede schools’ ability to explore this notion that I wonder how many are falling short of the ideal. How well are we including parents in the conversation around the idea that the purpose of a school is to invite children to learn, and learning in the current world means something very different than it did 5, 10 and 20 years ago.
There are many examples of things that schools do, simply because they have always been done so in the past. For example, why do teachers need a desk? Why do we need to ring school bells? Why do we need four walls in a classroom? As communities we need to ensure that we engage in conversations around the above issues, but also ensure that we include parents as partners in this dialogue.
School communities need to nurture the knowledge of all of it’s stakeholders and challenge what it means to educate children in the 21st Century. Our children are growing up in a world that is vastly different from the one in which we grew up in and thus we need to respond and transform in a way that fosters their needs. I hope that schools regularly stop, think and challenge the things we do each and every day to ensure that we are on the right track. This means including everyone – students, teachers and parents in the conversation.
If there is one thing in common from the past it is that we still all want all of our children to be happy and successful. Some things never change and this is one thing that I hope never does.
Click on the video below to listen to Sir Ken Robinson’s take on climate change in Education.