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Shifting the Conversation for a Moment

I wanted to post this New Ken Robinson Ted  Talk as I believe it would inform our continued  discussion on Paula’s and others posts during this “break week” … or  How I am viewing it “Unstructured Play” week…. Feel free to Revise or add to this post as you see fit during the week.

TED Talks In this poignant, funny follow-up to his fabled 2006 talk, Sir Ken Robinson makes the case for a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning — creating conditions where kids’ natural talents can flourish.

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5 thoughts on “Shifting the Conversation for a Moment

  1. “Education dislocates very many people from their natural talents;” how true for students and teachers both, David.

    I wonder if teachers waiting for reform are hybrid workers who love to endure.

    Faulkner was a man with problems. Nevertheless, he won the Nobel Prize. In his acceptance speech he said:

    “I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

    A few years back, a friend of mine asked if I was still writing. I said I was writing lessons and units and handouts “with their own cadences and refrains.” While that sounded fancy, I don’t know that lessons, units, or handouts were about compassion, sacrifice, or endurance. Regardless, I was a respected teacher – albeit respected differently than a teacher like John Hunter, who probably deserves a Nobel Prize.

    Looking at our writing here, and regarding Robinson’s TED talk and our shared work, what is the teacher’s duty? Her privilege? Her voice?

    What do we say? What does it change (#nonrhetorical)?

    All the best,
    C

    PS – Adam, I would love to hear you riff on the agriculture metaphor.

    Posted by Chad Sansing | May 24, 2010, 9:08 pm
  2. “I believe that students will not merely endure: they will prevail. They are immortal, not because they alone among creatures have an inexhaustible voice, but because <they have souls, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The teacher’s duty is to bring about these things. It is his privilege to help students,/i> endure by lifting their hearts, by reminding them of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of our past. The teacher’s voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.”

    Posted by Laura Webber | May 26, 2010, 9:07 pm
  3. David,

    Thanks for posting this here, I think discussing Robinson’s talk is a great thing to do.

    I am very happy that Robinson used his 18 minutes at TED this year to say very clearly that the education reform movement is futile, that revolution is what is needed. I hope that this settles into the minds of the hundreds of thousands of people who watch this video.

    I also have other feelings about this talk. I think Robinson spent more time doing stand-up and being charming than really getting dirty with this idea. I am not sure why he chose this approach, but he was like a skipping stone–sometimes touching the surface of the issue, sometimes just moving through empty space.

    I don’t know if Robinson has the answers to what the revolution should look like or how education should be done. The closest he came in this talk was “develop their own solutions with external supports based on personal curriculum.” And I think he is right on with this, but I am not sure because he didn’t talk enough about it.

    He very rightly knocks current education systems for their linear factory-line methods. As for the agriculture metaphor, he just used it as a device to say organic. Most agriculture today is done in massive mon0-culture fashion, depleting soils, and relying on toxic pesticides and fertilizers. Maybe education is already like agriculture? So saying we need education that is more like agriculture is a bit perplexing. Using the word organic is almost meaningless as well, as organic only means relating to or derived from living matter. His agriculture/organic language is not descriptive enough for me, it simple provides a general sense of what he might mean.

    As for organic, non-linear education, sure those are some appealing phrases, but here’s the thing, learning isn’t exclusively linear or non-linear, sometimes its one or the other, sometimes it’s both. Going too far in either direction always isn’t a good idea, we need to know when it is timely to be focused on sequential building of skills, and when to let learning happen as it will.

    I like the idea of using organic to mean related to life, not some far-off life that one day what we are learning might be useful, but our current, experienced life.

    I will perhaps blog more about this all later. In the mean time, I think we have two gems to hold onto from the talk.

    1. Revolution! Bring down the current education system and build a new one in part incorporating:
    2. A system where students “develop their own solutions with external supports based on personal curriculum.”

    I guess it’s up to us to determine how this is done!

    With hope,
    Adam

    Posted by Adam Burk | May 26, 2010, 9:59 pm
  4. “dislocates many people from their natural talents.” I love this phrase, what if we got out of the way of ourselves, what if we allowed organic learning to take over education? What if we stopped trying to reform a failing system, but rather started from the ground up on education? I now believe, that rarely being inadated in schooling, allows us to see the forrest through the trees and making inches better, when we have miles to go, actually hurts learning more than it helps.

    Thanks for posting this David, reinvegorates me about something that often times feels as though it is impossible to accomplish.

    Posted by educationalrevolutionist | May 26, 2010, 10:45 pm
  5. I have come across a great example of what Robinson talks about should happen, happening. It comes from Monika who has been a part of conversations elsewhere here at the co-op, and can be found on twitter @monk51295. Check out this document for more info, and then head to their youtube channel to get filled to the brim with good practice and inspiration.

    With joy,
    Adam

    Posted by Adam Burk | May 28, 2010, 9:28 am

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