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How do we educate the children of the future?
October 20, 2010 6:04 PM   Subscribe

RSA Animate - Changing Education Paradigms This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies (21 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

Fantastic talk, and a neat-o animation to go with it. I very much admire Sir Robinson. Thanks for posting!
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:26 PM on October 20, 2010

also, and this isn't saying much, but that is one of the better youtube comment discussions I've seen.

love to all the teachers.
posted by Lutoslawski at 6:34 PM on October 20, 2010

This dude is so right on about everything.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:48 PM on October 20, 2010

The best math teacher I ever had (Mrs. Bennett of Hamilton Intermediate School, '92-'93, in case she comes across this) was fantastic about making pre-algebra into a group-discussion thing and finding ways to break us into small groups to work on projects together. Given that math doesn't lend itself to this sort of thing nearly as readily as other subjects, I appreciate that. (She also seemed to catch on that my first real crush was a girl in that class whom she had known her entire life, and tried to find ways for us to work together, so there's that. This was a teacher very in tune with her students.)

As another odd thought, I have found that most of the best teachers in my life structured the desks in their rooms so that they faced one another, generally in two sets of two rows with an aisle in between through which the instructor walked. In addition to obviously promoting discussion, even during lecture I think this allows students to focus on the faces of the other kids, allowing a subconscious way for the students to see myriad reactions to the material, and fulfilling the goal of socialization which to me is the reason I could never choose homeschooling despite its obvious other advantages to traditional schooling.

I was lucky to go to schools where discussion was the norm and the benefits of frequent collaboration were understood. We were, however, still tested individually on most things, as is the current structure. It will take a Borlaug-like genius to devise the new system that Sir Robinson is calling for here, but we need it. In the interim, what we've got are teachers, who work within the system to still find ways for kids to be engaged with the subjects and learn all they can because they want to do so.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:07 PM on October 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

I remember really loving his TED talk, but something must have changed since then, because now I read something sinister in his question "How do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century?" Capitalism once only wanted our bodies for labor, now it demands our minds, hearts and social interactions too. What's disturbing is that this kind of exploitation is widely understood as a form of liberation.
posted by AlsoMike at 7:55 PM on October 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

I've watched the full talk this is based on. Like the animation, it is very low on specifics about how things should be done and didn't offer any evidence of concern for problems that might come up in such things as a move away from individual evaluation of students and and a move away from well-defined curricula toward enthusing about paperclips.
posted by Anything at 9:19 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

The full talk
posted by Anything at 9:46 PM on October 20, 2010

I wanted to like this, but I can't get past the ADHD stuff. Immediately after saying he's not claiming ADHD doesn't exist and admitting he's not qualified to say that ADHD doesn't exist, he says, "I know a great number of psychologists and pediatricians think there is such a thing, but it's still a matter of debate."

That's just a weaselly way to give yourself cover for claiming that ADHD doesn't exist, or that we ought to at least take seriously the contention that it doesn't exist.

Look, I'm not saying that the moon landing was faked. Frankly, I wouldn't be qualified to say that it was faked even if it were the case. And I know that a number of scientists, astronauts, film experts, say it wasn't faked...but it's still a matter of debate.

He follows that up with a pretty obscene correlation/causation error (ADHD medication prescriptions increased at the same time standardized testing!).

I did like the "We should lower standards?" joke, though.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:00 PM on October 20, 2010

I have been teaching for about a third of a century. (There were some musical interludes, early on...) Things have gotten worse and worse, in ways not unrelated to the paradigm shifts Robinson is talking about. (Ironically enough, the phrase "paradigm shift" was one of the catchphrases which would have been an easy box to fill during one of those jargon bingo games - in the ed biz - twenty years ago.)

Rumor has it that the Chinese are laughing at us (Americans) for running toward the standardized test model whilst they are trying to increase the creativity of their pedagogical models, something which may apparently lead to better economical results.

In the meantime, I am working at a job I love...but fifteen years ago, when I had a toddler, I had plenty of time to play with her. Luckily, she is finally at college, so staying up until eleven at night grading papers has deleterious results for me, but not for her. And I can see retirement on the horizon. We can only hope that the pendulum begins to shift toward this animated version of what may be a better model of learning. However, the signs are yet to appear. Mr. Obama and Mr. Duncan: you are on the wrong track. You are not old farts; you are smart. What is your problem? Is it the same problem that has bedeviled many of your better interests - and I am being generous here: the almost unlimited power of corporations to drive public policy, despite our decisions in the voting booths?

Charter schools: the Devil's playground, with occasional heavenly outposts...
posted by kozad at 10:09 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

We can only hope that the pendulum begins to shift toward this animated version of what may be a better model of learning.

What's the model of learning presented here? I see no model. I see some very vague objections and a call towards a 'move in the other direction'.

Do away with the boundaries between disciplines in the curriculum? Fine. Where do you get all the teachers who are experts in every subject?

Do away with individual evaluation of students? Whose responsibility is it to bring attention to a student who fails to learn with the others?
posted by Anything at 10:38 PM on October 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Charter schools: the Devil's playground, with occasional heavenly outposts...

Pardon me? The charter where I currently teach is kicking ass and taking names, mostly because we have to in order to stay competitive with the other awesome charters in the area.

St. Alia, thanks for posting this. My Education Leadership prof showed us this video last night and I forgot to write down who the speaker was.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 11:24 PM on October 20, 2010

Part of the problem ITT...
posted by hamida2242 at 1:22 AM on October 21, 2010

I would like to see this model of learning.
posted by querty at 3:02 AM on October 21, 2010

Pardon me? The charter where I currently teach is kicking ass and taking names, mostly because we have to in order to stay competitive with the other awesome charters in the area.

And yet, the overall performance of charter schools is worse than the overall performance of public, non-charter schools. Sure, your charter is kicking ass and taking names, but that's more than offset by lower-performing charters.
posted by Marty Marx at 6:32 AM on October 21, 2010

> Anything: "What's the model of learning presented here?"

You're right.. there isn't much specifics presented.. but that's a lot to expect out of an 11min animated overview.

I worked in a K-12 for 3 years (not teaching, I was the IT Admin, but I had access to many classrooms and knew many teachers well )

The thing that our district started to do was cross-connect classes/topics. For example:

1.) If history class was covering Civil War.. then maybe in music class they'd learn to play civil war era marching songs or learn the history of slave spirituals (field work singing) .

2.)If a student had a talent for math,.. perhaps they'd use wood-shop class to carve/build 3-dimensional models of certain equations (ex: a sierpinski cube)

3.) Or if science/biology class was gathering data on migration patterns.. they could feed that data into computer science class where they'd build programs to analyze it.

So there's all kinds of ways for students (and especially teachers) to organize and cross-pollinate ideas and results. I'm not saying its the perfect model.. but after a year or so of doing it, it really caught on in our district (and I'm sad I wasn't able to stick around to see how it continued).

But I think Sir K Robinson makes good points that we have to get away from the overly-rigid and conformist structure and look for more divergent approaches that bring people together instead of separate. (that's not to say we should totally throw away structure and rules.. some of those are necessary for safety,etc... )
posted by jmnugent at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2010

I find these sorts of educational "visionaries" tiresome. People have been saying this sort of stuff for a long long time. I don't find it all that helpful.
What particular aspects of the curriculum are based on the factory model?
What particular aspects of how the institution of public schooling is organized put children into boxes? Separating kids into age groups is a bad idea? Have you even been with a group of kids aged 5-9?

I think, as John Oliver of the Daily Show has observed, it is all in the British accent.

Also, growing up is a process of becoming less creative. Anyone who doesn't see the benefit in that hasn't had dinner with a toddler night after night. Learning to be less creative with a fork is part of growing up. There are benefits to less divergent thinking.
posted by cogpsychprof at 9:37 AM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

jmnugent, I mentioned above the 55-minute talk from which the animation is compiled. It doesn't really get into specifics either. Perhaps his books do.

The connections you mention sound interesting, and I'm sure they provide good opportunities for students to get new perspectives on the subjects they are studying. I do have to say, though, that they still sound like a marginal improvement, whereas Robinson seems to suggest he has something revolutionary in mind.
posted by Anything at 11:48 AM on October 21, 2010

And yet, the overall performance of charter schools is worse than the overall performance of public, non-charter schools. Sure, your charter is kicking ass and taking names, but that's more than offset by lower-performing charters.

posted by Lutoslawski at 12:50 PM on October 21, 2010

cogpsychprof, I would have been much better off as a first grader (no kindergarden back then) who could READ before I started school, if I could have been taught to my abilities instead of having to be bored solid for years and years and years in school.

It was HELL. It was like being in prison with no parole.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:50 PM on October 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have ADHD and Asperger's Syndrome. I was given medication in gradeschool (7th grade) that I didn't want to take and didn't noticeably help. Thankfully, my parents respected that and did not force me to continue taking it. At the time, I had a rather dim view of the "reality" of ADHD and some other psychiatric conditions (while still recognizing that I was "different"; I picked this view up from others). I suffered through school until college, where I dropped out after a year. A couple years and additional diagnoses later (no one really knew about AS back then), I decided to try medication again. After a few medication changes, I found something that worked well for me and have been able to function better in environments and ways I always struggled with.

I still think he has some valid criticism of the way medication is often used and the environments children are forced to "learn" in. I did as much learning out of school as I did in school and was frequently blamed for my failure to "reach my potential," but never offered any alternatives. I eventually gained employment in the IT field after learning enough to be proficient in my spare time. I will second "It was like being in prison"; from 7th grade through high school I had suicidal ideations on an almost daily basis and violent outbursts a few times a year. Not fun. I still struggle sometimes, I still have to work with my differences, but at least there is recognition and assistance instead of denial and blame.
posted by nTeleKy at 2:58 PM on October 21, 2010

I was delighted by this when I saw it a few days ago, and thought of sharing it -- until he came to the part about his ADHD denial. That part also features a map of the United States with many of the squarish "flyover" states just invented randomly like puzzle pieces, as if one or two more don't make any difference; that suggests to me that the artist was either British himself, or from NYC. From there on, he kept losing me more.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:22 PM on October 21, 2010

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