This is a fascinating TED Talk by Ken Robinson about education.
I’ve been dancing around the educational system for years. I’ve worked as a sub and teachers aid, considered advanced degrees, and reviewed alternative approaches like Waldorf and Montessori Schools. Ultimately, I decided to not pursue teaching as a profession because I couldn’t see myself being effective or enjoying teaching in our current systems.
I totally agree with Sir Ken that the most important role of the leaders is to create environments that help students thrive. He discusses the main challenges; a system that is overly systemized, doesn’t value teachers or students diversity. We must create systems that support students and teachers to thrive by honoring teaching as a noble profession, honor diversity, encourage creativity and more. To learn more, watch this wonderful TED Talk called How to escape education’s death valley.
1- Honoring diversity. Instead, currently our schools mostly focus on a narrow band of skills and topics. Maybe kids aren’t so much ADD as bored from the current teaching approaches. The arts and physical education are too often left out, but we need to be exposed to a broad range of topics. Therefore, we must personalize our teaching (methods and topics) to our students. Broad curriculums that involve the students and community.
2- Fostering curiosity. And we aren’t honoring our teachers. Focus too much on the tasks of teaching, as opposed to facilitating learning. For example, we focus too much on testing. We’ve created a culture of conformity that discourages curiosity and learning. Honoring teaching as a noble profession, attracting and supporting the best talent. The countries that excel in children’s learning all invest in professional development for their teachers.
3- Encouraging creativity. Humans are inherently creative, but most school systems discourage creativity. Again, in order to test ( across a very narrow set of skills), we focus on testing reading, writing and math. Finland routinely comes out on top on tests, with no standardized tests, don’t focus exclusively on math and science, and rare dropouts. Again, in the top performing countries, they allow local schools control over how to deliver effective teaching in a way that creates effective learning. In the US, we have mostly a top-down, command and control, approach to education. The real leadership role is to create a climate that encourages learning.
If you want to learn more, watch the video or explore Sir Ken Robinson’s website for many more ideas about creative teaching. Education needs to be about humans, not systems. Let’s create schools that encourage learning and help kids thrive. Just like Death Valley, life is waiting to thrive when given the right conditions.
To enlightened teaching!