We all want to fix America's education system. Common Core, standardized tests, rising costs of college, rejection of trade schools and apprenticeships - these are just a few of the obstacles children and parents must overcome. So what do we do? Here at GlennBeck.com, we are looking to highlight stories of people looking for solutions to the education problem in this country. Some of these you may agree with, some of them you may not like at all. But hopefully it spurs thought and conversation in your own household and community about how to enact real change on this issue.
Today, we're highlighting the TED Talk of Sir Ken Robinson, a creativity expert and educator, and the need to create an education system that fosters creativity.
Why does Robison believe the public education system kills creativity?
1) Schools stigmatize mistakes.
I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original -- if you're not prepared to be wrong. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way. We stigmatize mistakes. And we're now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said this -- he said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it.
2) Creative pursuits are placed at the bottom of the educational hierarchy.
Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn't matter where you go.You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth. And in pretty much every system too,there's a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting? (Laughter) Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.
So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician ;don't do art, you won't be an artist. Benign advice -- now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized.
3) The education system is designed to produce more teachers
If you were to visit education, as an alien, and say 'What's it for, public education?' I think you'd have to conclude -- if you look at the output, who really succeeds by this, who does everything that they should,who gets all the brownie points, who are the winners -- I think you'd have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. Isn't it? They're the people who come out the top.
4) The school system is suffering from academic inflation
When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn't have a job it's because you didn't want one [...] But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games,because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other. It's a process of academic inflation. And it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.
So how do we fix it?
At the end of his talk, Robison said that the first step in rethinking education is to start adopt a new thinking of "human ecology". The current education system has pushed society to only focus on what a certain group of people have deemed as acceptable and practical pursuits, and as a result human creativity has suffered. Robison suggests the education system start to encourage creativity.
I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won't serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children. There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, "If all the insects were to disappear from the earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish." And he's right.
What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this giftwisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we've talked about. And the only way we'll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. By the way -- we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it.