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Sir Ken Robinson! Reliving the 2014 Microsoft in Education School Leader Global Forum in Miami

Photo Credit, Sebastiaan ter Burg (Flickr)

Our coverage continues with the amazing Sir Ken Robinson. He touched on the importance of unleashing creativity to not only education but humanity– with rising populations, this presents a challenge but also an opportunity to solve these problems, in which educational reform and fostering our imaginative powers plays an essential role. We captured some of his most memorable quotes below– questions for you are in bold, feel free to chime in in the comments section.

[8:47am] The amazing Sir Ken Robinson on creativity- “The arts are not a synonym for creativity. They think when you say creative you mean the same as artistic. But my argument is that you can be creativity with absolutely nothing at all, that creativity is a fundamental human capacity. It manifests itself in science, technology, in all forms of human culture.”


[9:00am] Sir Ken Robinson- “All I really feel I’m doing is trying to articulate what people know to be true anyhow. I think part of the impact of those talks is they gave voice to things people were feeling.”

[9:02am] Sir Ken Robinson calls for change! “We are living in a time of revolution, and I mean it literally. There are things happening on the earth now, for humanity, for which there is no precedent in human history. There are forces at work among human populations now that are unique in time. If we are to meet this revolution, engage properly with it, we have to think differently as individuals, communities, organizations, and definitely as schools. We have to think differently about people, talent, ability, about possibility and potential. We have to do things differently, behave differently. Part of my long-term concern is our school systems are rooted in a different age, designed for a different time, and not the time we live in.”

[9:05am] “We need something more profound than gradual change.” Really powerful words.

[9:08am] Sir Ken Robinson says if you bought the first edition of his book “Out of Our Minds,” “I’m sorry, it’s dreadful.” He revised the entire book because “so much has happened in the last 10 years, thing were in prospect but not actualized 10 years ago.” How do you think education and edtech has evolved in the past 10 years?

[9:15am] “Two things have transformed the planet and will continue to transform the planet- one of them is the exponential growth in technology. What’s often less clear is the consequences of technology are almost always entirely unpredictable. You can never quiet anticipate what will happen when you develop a new technology, or what people will do with it. And it illustrates a fundamental point for me – human life never goes on a straight line, it’s never linear, it’s almost always cursive. Human life is not only non-linear, it’s inherently creative. People are constantly taking ideas and running with them in fresh and new directions.”

[9:19am] Standardized education is NOT what we need, says Sir Ken. “Around the world, many governments are interpreting the need to transform education as the need to standardize education- it’s happening in United States, has been for several years, in Asia, in South America, parts of Australasia, parts of Europe. There’s movement to standardize curriculum, testing, teaching. There’s no argument I can think of against having high standards and looking at ways of raising education. But standardized education will be the death of the way education should be– it should be personalized, around the personal needs of the learner.” What do you think about this statement?

[9:25am] “In the U.S. 30% of kids in grade 9 will not graduate high school. I hesitate to call it a dropout question– when so many people leave the system, it would be a mistake to call them the problem. It’s more accurate to say that the system has failed them- it’s fair to say we haven’t given them the education they need.”

[9:30am] A high level look at creativity and the power of human imagination- “What we look at is affected by our cultural references, what we see is affected by what we see. Our concepts affect our percepts. Why I think this is so important is becaues of the power of creatiivty; in one respect we are different- human beings have powerful imaginations. The ability to bring into mind things that are not present to our senses. Because of it, human beings have moved beyond the rest of life on earth. Culturally human beings have always been moving forward- we have this power that enables us to step out of the present into the future, past, into other people’s point of view. We can imagine, and imagination means thinking in images, but also musically and through movement, and so on. From imagination comes a whole set of powers that we call creativity- creativity is putting your imagination to work. What it means is that human beings live in a virtual world all the time– we create the world we live in. And when we create a common world in which we live together, we create a culture. We end up with a common worldview which we take for granted as being the natural order.”

[9:37am] Sir Ken tells us how the population is at its highest point… EVER. This creates unique challenges for civilization– if everybody lived and consumed the way an average person in India does, the earth can sustain a population of about 15 billion people. If everybody lived and consumed the way an average person in North America does, the earth can sustain a population of about 1.5 billion people. “These challenges are being created by our own creativity, but the fact is we could start to be defeated by our own ingenuity if we don’t start to hinking differently about how we eat, house people.”

[9:38am] “The challenges couldn’t be bigger, but the opportunities couldn’t be greater, as well. We simply cannot face the future by standardizing the education system of the 19th century– it will alienate people. The real challenges are in the areas that can be nurtured by creativity.”

[9:42am] “Technology, put simply, is the design and use of tools, the first of which was probably some kind of flint axe, but as soon as we’ve created a tool, whether it’s a flint axe or Surface Pro, we are doing two things- the first is, a tool enables us physically to do things physically we couldn’t do without it. It extends our physical capacities. The development of the pencil created a new form of visual thinking that was not possible beforehand. But the availability of a tool expands our minds- it makes us think of things that we couldn’t think of before…There’s always been an intimate reationship between tools and creativity.”

[9:50am] Why do we even need a correct answer? Sir Ken shows us a very interesting clip where students were asked to either “Complete the painting in the right way” or simply “Complete the painting” (a picture of a triangle is all that’s on the paper). When instructed with the more restricting former statement, 80% of the pictures turned out to be houses. However, in the case of the latter statement, no one drew house and 5 colors were used on average vs. 2 colors in the “right way” instruction. The power of reframing a question! “One of the problems with standardized education is it makes people come up with a set answer. Sometimes creativity is coming up with a new way to ask a question.”


[9:57am] “There is an endless and indomiatable supply of creatiivty if we create the right environment for it. If the culture is right, things will start to grow again– a lot of the times in environment that potential is marginalized because we create a standardized environment.”

[9:59am] “The challenge with technology is not a technological one, it’s a spiritual one. If we get that right, there’s a huge prize waiting for us.”

[10:00am] Closing words- “If we start to rethink some of the fundamental principles of education, its relationship with technology, there’s a better chance that we will create world that we and our children will want to live in.” How are you rethinking the fundamental principles of education and its relationship with technology in your everyday teaching?

1 Comment

  1. Reblogged this on Kurt Sösers Blog and commented:
    Einige Leser meines Blogs wissen es, dass ich Sir Ken Robinson bewundere. Ein unglaublicher Mann, der mit seinen kraftvollen und tollen Vorträgen über Bildung, Schulen und Kreativität mich seit Jahren in den Bann zieht.
    Auf dem MS Global Forum in Miami hielt er wieder einer seiner tollen Vorträge. Minnia Fang hat das Wichtigste im Microsoft Education Blog festgehalten:

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