Open Thinkering


Ken Robinson on creativity v2

As Dave Stacey has already said, I think by now every educator worth his or her salt has seen the excellent TED Talks video where Sir Ken Robinson talks about creativity. If not, click here post haste and watch it!

Sir Ken recently agreed to be interviewed by the pupil-powered Radiowaves about creativity in education. It’s certainly worth watching/listening to:

5 thoughts on “Ken Robinson on creativity v2

  1. Yeah, I’m one of those who have seen the Robinson TED talk, and immediately told my friends about it. However, betwen seeing that one and this (v.2) video, I have done some thinking. First, while Ken’s assertion that schools were created for the 19th century world is not false, it begs an important question. Schools were not created FOR the 19th century, they were created a) for industry and an industrialised world, to ensure a plentiful supply of the requisite labour (compulsory schooling allowed the government to control not only the numbers of people educated to what level, but also the speed of learning); and b) as an experiment in utopia, in social engineering, because certain ideas and concepts came together at the right moment for certain clever and ambitious people who saw huge potential for controlling entire populations. While the 19th century individuals who made the crucial decisions are no longer around, their philosophies and ambitions are unlikely to have died with them.

    The second question is, how do you teach creativity? Can it be taught? I think art (i.e. the arts) play a crucial role in this, as Ken thinks too, but can we not get more specific than that? Einstein, apparently, practised imagination exercises daily. He did not leave it to chance (or to state education, for that matter). And more importantly, can it be taught by a state educational system? The image of foxes guarding the henhouse springs to mind.

    1. What a great video. Of course we would all like to be as open and creative as possible, BUT we can't be. In primary education we are only monitored on English, Mathematics and Science and so we will never be truly creative while we have the shackles of the league tables placed uponus by the government.
      Ken made a point about people over 30 being out of touch with ICT, and I have to wholeheartedly disagree with that. I am passionate about ICT and the effect it can have in my classroom, I have all my gadgets, etc… but I do acknowledge not everyone over 30 want to be bothered with ICT to such a degree and that is fine too.

  2. I dont think the idea is that we teach creativity (although this would be good), but we must teach creatively.
    The talk goes very nicely with 'The Futures' curriculum thinking in that we deliver personalised learning at a speed the learner can cope with. This is the break from the victorian traditions where all children learn at the same pace. Of course this blows out of the water the concept of testing all children with the same exams at teh same time on the same day across the country, but this has also been hinted at by the government, where they suggest that we test children 'when they are ready' to be tested…. hmmm, sure….

  3. I saw Sir Ken preach this message back in the 80s and had the same mixed feelings about it then. He relies a great deal on funny or touching anecdotes to get an audience on his side before delivering generalised assertions on the value of 'creativity'.
    He doesn't define what he means by creativity but again relies on anecdote and mentions of Picasso and Shakespeare, etc. Strip away the anecdotes and jokes and what does he say? Old style overemphasis on Numeracy and Literacy = bad – Creativity = good.
    What concerns me is that in twenty years his message doesn't appear to have developed at all in terms of offering a clear definition of what pro-creativity education might look like. Perhaps he has to keep the message simple because the battle still has to be won but I would be grateful if someone could let me know where I can find some more substantial work by him.

  4. What do you mean he doesn't define creativity? He clearly defines it as "original ideas that add value." I teach creative thinking at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, Ken Robinson gave me some serious clarity into what it means to teach creativity. We are stuck in a world of expecting "direction" … which naturally leads to followers and paths and such. These are often enemies of creativity.

    We focus so much on the "that add value part." We teach how to take an idea to a higher place, if you will, but we struggle with teaching people to be original in their thought. I struggle with this. How do I teach a classroom of people to be original, when they all hear the same thing I'm saying?

    Frankly, I have to rely more on the student to educate themselves … to follow their strengths. I provide tools that lead to original thought, but of course they are no longer original.

    I know I have it easy because I have college students, but I have been able to use this frame of mind for my son's 5th grade class a couple of times (again, nothing close to the extension of prolonged teaching) and met with success.

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