Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish — and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.
The analogy to Death Valley that Ken makes is this. Death Valley is the hottest, driest place in America, and nothing grows there. Nothing grows there because it doesn't rain. Hence, Death Valley. In the winter of 2004, it rained in Death Valley. Seven inches of rain fell over a very short period. And in the spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon. The whole floor of Death Valley was carpeted in flowers for a while. What it proved is this: that Death Valley isn't dead. It's dormant. Right beneath the surface are these seeds of possibility waiting for the right conditions to come about, and with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable. It happens all the time. You take an area, a school, a district, you change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners,you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate in what they do, and schools that were once bereft spring to life.
He also makes a great comparison of our education system to Finland's. Ken points out that Finland regularly comes out on top in math, science and reading. He goes on to say, "Now, we only know that's what they do well at, because that's all that's being tested. That's one of the problems of the test. They don't look for other things that matter just as much. The thing about work in Finland is this: they don't obsess about those disciplines. They have a very broad approach to education, which includes humanities, physical education, the arts."
Robinson adds, "Second, there is no standardized testing in Finland. I mean, there's a bit, but it's not what gets people up in the morning, what keeps them at their desks."
The third thing Ken Robinson points out was Finland's dropout rate. He begins, "and I was at a meeting recently with some people from Finland, actual Finnish people,and somebody from the American system was saying to the people in Finland, "What do you do about the dropout rate in Finland? And they all looked a bit bemused, and said, "Well, we don't have one. Why would you drop out? If people are in trouble, we get to them quite quickly and we help and support them."
We think you will enjoy this video, and that you'll find it's certainly worth the watch: Ken Robinson: Escaping Education's Death Valley.