Reforming Education

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.

He talks about three pillars of effective teaching.Β educational revolution

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 aΒ 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!Β 


34 thoughts on “Reforming Education

  1. An excellent share, Brad, particularly with your summary included. Last year, my then-10-year-old niece was taken to task by her teacher for being “too curious and creative;” the teacher told my sister “she needs to contain that.” Needless to say, the teacher got an earful from my sis, but it really illuminated the problem you speak of here. Thanks for sharing it. Blessings, Jamie

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  2. I haven’t watched the video yet but I will. With two young kids, I see how the school system as an institution has become a dinosaur. It will take some very out-of-the-box minds to make the necessary and wide spread changes. And good for for seeing the path in front of you as a teacher and choosing the path less taken🌸🌸🌸

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  3. Having a home-schooled son, I have seen Ken’s talks several times. The limits placed on the minds of our future leaders is sometimes staggering when we open our eyes to it. Thanks for sharing Brad!

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    • Agreed Sue, We need more inspired teachers. But to get there in the US, we need big reform in the culture of schools and how we teach. Thankfully, there are wonderful teachers, schools and leaders already doing wonderful things for the children. πŸ™‚

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      • That’s good to know Brad.. We as cultures get so bogged down in the curriculum which has been taught for decades… Including miss-informed History! Its nice to know many are doing great jobs and teaching wonderful things..
        I would also light Earth Schooling taught LOL… How to connect with Nature and respect all life πŸ™‚ Instead of respecting just the Material which dominates many lives of today..

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  4. I agree with you on all of this Sue. Waldorf schools teach creativity, spirit and respect for nature. And I’ve heard of niche schools that teach those things . Maybe with time it will become more mainstream. Many of our schools at least teach and implement programs to care for nature like gardening, recycling, etc.
    And we all teach by our actions. πŸ™‚


  5. I really enjoy this TED talk ~ saw it a while ago and was so impressed with his thinking. Could not agree more with the 3 pillars you have listed and Ken preaches on…such value to bring to our future. We have a bright future if only we focus on making sure our children have an education, one based on beautiful diversity that creates dreams. Great post Brad!

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  6. I first saw this video about a year ago, and like you Brad, totally agree with his outlook. It is a rapidly changing world in which the old ways are begining to fail, yet our education system doesn’t see it yet.

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  7. This talk by Sir Ken Robinson is one of my absolute favourites! Education, especially the education of children remains very close to my heart. I am not suprised that this issue features strongly on yours too. I’m intrigued that you dabbled with the thought of pursuing a path in education, Brad. I think you would make an excellent teacher! Sharon

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