Sunday, September 14, 2008

creativity and education

Ken Robinson is my new hero. He has managed to articulate, with amazing insight and humour, all the truths I have discovered as an artist, parent and former teacher, but had no idea how to formulate into actual language. If you visit this blog and DON'T watch it I'll know, forcing me to hunt you down and smother you in your bed with your pillow.

Don't say you haven't been warned.


Blogger dinahmow said...

Are you familiar with the expression "preaching to the converted" ?
So please don't do your Othello thing!

14/9/08 2:50 p.m.  
Blogger Brian the Mennonite said...

I just lost a huge response to this post because of blogger, and I'm not typing it all again. I will say, however, that the video reminded me of Robert Genn's most recent email where he refers to John Cage's rules for students and teachers.
Here they are:

1 Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.
2 General duties of a student--pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.
3 General duties of a teacher--pull everything out of your students.
4 Consider everything an experiment.
5 Be self-disciplined--this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.
6 Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.
7 The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.
8 Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.
9 Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.
10 Break rules. Even your own rules. Leave plenty of room for X quantities.

I think I'll request this guy for or next teacher's conference.
Thanks for this, Andrea.

14/9/08 3:22 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Di: You see, you're exactly the sort of person who I would've expected to watch the video. It's the unconverted I need to smother.

Brian: So good to see a comment from you. Funny, I never really read this letter of Robert Genn's until you put it here, so thanks. I keep re-reading #8. I'm guilty as sin of doing that and find it totally messes with my brain. From now on I stop!

14/9/08 4:06 p.m.  
Blogger carla said...

I saw this a while back, referenced in an excellent article in the NY Times about the sorry state of education. I considered sending it (anonymosly, of course) to our superintendent of schools, but I know it wouldn't make a bit of difference. It's all about product and test scores and getting the right answer, which is why kids leave our schools knowing how to either work the system or fail, but rarely how to think creatively for themselves. It's truly a shame.

14/9/08 4:23 p.m.  
Blogger Ellen said...

Now you're making ME think. I watched this before, OK, only half, HA! hypocrite I am as I post 20 min movies on my blog all the time! But i watched it all now and it is great. It also makes me think all children are kinetic learners for a lot longer than our education system allows (we make them sit still and learn beginning in kindergarten)

I do like his point regarding how we blindly go on trying to prepare students to live in a world that we have no idea will look like in even 5 yrs. Interesting thought. I do take exception to one point though, I'm a woman and I completely suck at multi-tasking.

14/9/08 5:05 p.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

Brilliant. I think I'll send it to every parent I know.

Have you read "Seven Kinds of Smart"? It's worth it. It changed the way I parent.

14/9/08 5:48 p.m.  
Blogger nadine said...

I love it when a great message is delivered in an interesting and humourous manner. I am not familiar with this guy... Must go Google him... The book he is working on sounds like it will be a fascinating read too :-)
Thanks for the education :-)

14/9/08 7:04 p.m.  
Blogger beadbabe49 said...

yes...thanks for the introduction to Ken Robinson...

14/9/08 8:40 p.m.  
Blogger Within Without said...

Wow, Andrea. All 20:03 was worth it, except for the car ads...

As the dad of a son diagnosed with ADD (inattentive type), I can confirm that he has always lived with the stigma of being lousy in math and other subjects our education system puts No. 1.

His strength and love are in the artistic realm. He's going to be the lead in his high school's production of a Charlie Brown Christmas.

He's an amazing kid who is not amazing as far as society's expectations go.

But let him express himself in his own way and focus on his artistic innards, and he thrives and is full of life and excellence.

Thanks for this.

14/9/08 8:57 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Wow, that guy was fabulous (and wonderfully funny). I couldn't agree more (but then I teach art at times, as you know).

I'm thinking about this in terms of application for the adult artists that we are... how to change how we (I) gauge our own success - a topic discussed at length on our retreat this weekend. Still working on that one.

15/9/08 12:47 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

I've only managed the first few minutes - so I hope that's enough to allow us to have a pillow fight rather than simply be murdered in my bed!

15/9/08 2:06 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

Its okay I've had time to watch it all now... and now I've learnt that really I ought to have gone to dance school.... the bit of school that I hated was the having to sit still and as I did just that I then shrivelled my ability to dance...

15/9/08 2:20 a.m.  
Blogger Caroline said...

Oh and yes, yet another comment - now I know why the cat known as TED was hanging around the front of our house last night and this morning - it was to make sure I did actually bother to watch this.

15/9/08 2:21 a.m.  
Blogger Melody said...

That was absolutely wonderful.......perhaps you should share that link with Stephen Harper. I watched right to the end as death by pillow frightened me.

15/9/08 5:09 a.m.  
Blogger Hayden said...

I watched this some time ago, but just in case you didn't know that I watched it again to save myself from pillow-smothering. Although, unless your arms are very long, that would have put you right inside Jake's attack range and you'd have to deal with him licking your face whilst you smothered away. It wouldn't make it easy.

This is brilliant, of course, and I believe its a lesson to all of us. I don't think we should stop with the children, all of us should be intent on waking up the creative soul within.

15/9/08 7:51 a.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I have had this video bookmarked for the past year and every so often I watch it when I need a bit of inspiration. Another parent from my daughter's school sent it to me - it's fantastic.

I subbed 4 out 5 days last week and had to teach the writing, reading and math lessons so the kids wouldn't lose learning days. It really made me think hard. The classroom is a 3-5 grade combined classroom which sounds difficult, but is actually brilliant because at every age, there are different learning styles and abilities. The classroom is also part of the Stanley British Primary philosophy of education which stresses child led learning vs. teacher led.

In my daughter's school there are 2 education tracks - British Primary or Contemporary (which is teacher led). My daughter happens to be in the contemporary classroom and is a kid who needs more structure and is thriving. Other kids do better in a less structured environment like BP.

Anyway, during the writing lesson, I was trying to explain how there are different ways of writing and I could feel the mental synapses in my brain firing away. Some of the kids were expressing writer's block - and I asked them if they could name all the different ways we "write" or communicate. After getting the standard responses, I asked about visual art, music, dance - and we all had this aha moment. While I stressed that we do have to learn how to write in the literal sense of the word for the purposes of getting through 12 years of elementary and secondary schooling and possibly several more years at the university level, I think the stress level dissipated in the room for everyone. Some people, kids and adults included, shouldn't be forced into a homogenized standard because there are so many other legitimate ways to live, learn and thrive.

Sorry for the rant - it's a bit of synchronicity for me.

15/9/08 9:41 a.m.  
Blogger ziggi said...

I'm going to play this at my school tomorrow! And then I'm going to see if he's married already!

15/9/08 10:02 a.m.  
Blogger corine @ Hidden In France said...

This is one my my all time favorite talk of al time. Love Him!

15/9/08 1:08 p.m.  
Blogger corine @ Hidden In France said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

15/9/08 1:09 p.m.  
Blogger Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing - what a wonderful talk!

16/9/08 11:29 a.m.  
Blogger Donnnnn said...

What timing!
Last night on PBS there was a program on the deplorable conditions of the American Education system and the usual litany of problems..foremost is that almost 50% of Teachers quit within five years!

They showed this new school in Ohio where every kid gets to keep working on a subject until they get an A...they get all the help they need and the focus is on mastering their subject not 'gettin' a C' and getting it over with.

Another school in Harlem that had a dental/medical clinic in the basement, clean clothes, meals...
so that these kids, many who have brutal domestic suituations, could concentrate on learning. It was so encouraging.

Sir Ken of course was brilliant and that Industrially mandated hierarchy of skills is still in full force but I have two Dancers and an Artist in University so I am living I watched it twice and took notes.

loved the point about stigmatizing mistakes..reminded me of Yoda
"Do or do not...there is no try." and Edison who said that he found 999 ways that a light bulb would NOT work.

Bucking Frilliant.

16/9/08 2:17 p.m.  
Blogger Undaunted said...

After watching that all I can say is - Amen!

I know a parent who stopped paying for her daughter to have gymnastics lessons because the tutor said she would never be any good. Does it matter? She loved doing it. I believe there would be less stress related illnesses if people were allowed to express themselves in what ever way they wanted. And incidentally, didn't they say the same about Pavlova regarding ballet?

Kids would pay more attention in school if the lessons they did were something that they actually enjoyed. I never spoke a word to anyone during art lessons. Mind you, I didn't talk to anyone during french either, but that's because I was asleep!

Thanks for posting this. It's brilliant.

16/9/08 9:02 p.m.  
Blogger Ponygirl said...

I've never heard of TED or this Sir Ken Robinson, I don't have kids and I am not in education.

But I totally connected with it. My parents let me do art all the time - and I am half decent at it - would be better if I did more of it. I was allowed to take ballet as a teenager, skipping a year of basketball in grade 11 to try it - because I wanted to. I sucked but has fun!

I am sending a link to your post on this to everyone I know - all I can say is WOW! How immensely important this information is - on how the children of the world are getting their creativity educated right out of their heads. How sad is that.

Thanks, Andrea..... huge thanks.

16/9/08 11:24 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Carla: In my experience, it's the client who has demanded the product and the educators who have caved. Every time there's a meaningful move towards a broader persepctive on education (here anyway) the parents demand the basics and the test scores. It's all they know and it's all about measuring their child against little Suzy and little Johnny and making sure they get into the Right schools and careers. The idea of allowing the experts to make the decisions doesn't come into it any more because the parent, having once been a student themselves, figure THEY are the expert now. (In some cases they're right of course...)

Ellen: It's interesting how often humans automatically take up the default "what we know" position, isn't it? How did we ever make any progress I wonder?

Heatehr: I haven't read it but from the title it sounds like a book that describes learning styles, a workshop every teacher takes but how many of them actually apply...?

Nadine: My pleasure. :) I had to watch it again and I should take notes...

OOPS. I'll be back later to respond to the rest.

17/9/08 9:13 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

BeadBabe49: It's so worth sharing, don't you think?

WW: Wow -- synchronicities. My younger son also has ADD and it hasn't always been easy but he just discovered that acting bug, too, and is addicted, having just won a role in Romeo & Juliet.

Tara: I'm hoping to read on your blog some of the revelatiuons you and the 'painting ladies' had this weekend. I'm way behind in visiting blogs, though, yikes.

Caroline: Yes! It's all about being receptive to the signals, isn't it?

Melody: You are a wise woman -- in more ways than one! :)

Hayden: Ha! I can take on Jake! I'll just have to smother him in puppy treats! :)

Cynthia: Thanks for your amazingly thoughtful response. I'm tempted to repost it here and add my own signature. :)

Ziggi: Wait in line!! I'm first!

Corine: Hands off -- he's mine. :)

Barbara: thanks.

Donnn: I know -- it's weird how important that segment of our lives is for the MANY decades that follow and how lightly it's regarded by the powers-that-be. I love those programs!

Unduanted: Great comment and so true. What is it with the human need to constantly compete and compare? It may be natural but it sure doesn't need to be nurtured the way it is.

Ponygirl: Your first comment made me think about how the way we treat/regard the most vulnerable members of our society, whether we are involved with them or not, says so much about society as a whole. As you have discovered, educating our kids properly impacts us all, childless or not. Thanks for spreading the Word. :)

18/9/08 4:05 p.m.  
Blogger Within Without said...


Synchronicities for sure. And synchronicity is what all our kids should get in school instead of the absurd expectations of a rigid, unyielding system that's programmed to meet the so-called needs of big business, politicians, performance and all A's.

A very important, feeling post.

18/9/08 4:18 p.m.  
Blogger Natalya said...


19/9/08 1:28 p.m.  
Blogger San said...

Inspiring video. In particular I like the way he compares the strip-mining of the earth to the unbalanced use of our minds.

Shall we dance?

19/9/08 2:54 p.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

Isn't it great? I had already seen it and it's a favorite of mine. I like to think I was that sort of educator. Likely wasn't.

22/9/08 8:07 a.m.  

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