Recap of Sir Ken Robinson's talk in Omaha
I'm back after a weekend flurry of travels that saw me in five states in two days. (OK, four days in all, but I hit them all in the first two.) Sir Ken Robinson's talk at the Kaneko in Omaha kicked off my long weekend, and I'd like to share a few things about it now.
I was lucky enough to be able to take part in an early session with Sir Ken, exclusive to area educators. He made a few points in this session that he repeated at the main event, so I'm able to remember them better, but in some cases I don't recall when he shared a particular nugget. These highlights are thus pulled from both sessions and are in no particular order:
- Creativity isn't just for the arts--it's required to excel in math, science, business, and other fields. Sir Ken defines creativity as "the process of having original ideas of value." Everyone is born creative, and anyone can be creative--just as you can learn to read, you can learn to think creatively.
- The framers of No Child Left Behind meant well, but created a flawed system that focuses on assessment and curriculum over teaching. Teaching is akin to acting. In acting, you can strip everything down to the core of an actor and an audience. Anything else you add to that mix--lighting, a stage, a building, etc.--should only be added if it improves the product. With teaching, the core is the teacher and the pupil--not assessment and curriculum.
- Education currently follows the fast food chain model--it's standardized, so you know what you're going to get regardless of which restaurant you visit. But none of it's very good. The Zagat's model is what education should be like. A restaurant is given a set of criteria to meet, but reviewers don't give a restaurant any specifics in terms of what kind of food to serve, who to hire, or when to be open. As a result, every restaurant in a Zagat's guide is excellent, but no two are alike.
- Being in your "element," the subject of Sir Ken's latest book, is being at the point where your passion meets your talents. He shared a number of stories about people who arrived at their element, often in spite of--but sometimes because of--the educational system.
- Encouraging students to find their own "elements" can help increase literacy by encouraging learners to read and write about their passions.
- "The enemy of innovation is common sense," though it's difficult to see past common sense.
There was much more, but it's starting to get fuzzy in my head without some prompting. Perhaps after I start reading The Element I'll remember some more. As an aside, I really need to get up to Omaha more. I always forget that it's only a few hours away and is a very nice town. And the Kaneko looks to be shaping up to be a wonderful resource to nurture all kind of creativity there. Thanks to the staff there for putting together a wonderful event, well worth my drive.. Questions or comments? Let me know what you think.