Education System: creating cars or teaching kids?

I crashed the ISACS (Independent Schools Association of the Central States) conference the other day. Yes, I’m getting too old to sneak into events. I didn’t do it for the rubber chicken served at lunch, but to listen to Sir Ken Robinson.

A world-renowned expert in creativity, Sir Ken entertains. After the lunch and a follow up session with him, my cheeks hurt.

Google him and watch one of his videos at the TED conference. Or visit his website:

If you need more information on his thoughts, here are a few pieces I take from Ken:

Things are changing fast and the pace of change is accelerating. In the next 50 years everything must and will change, i.e. from technology to energy use. If the entire world lived like the USA, the earth could support 1.2B people. At issue is the education system in the USA. It’s not set up to enable kids to flourish, to follow their passions and to become leaders of the revolution we’re in.

Our politicians mean well with programs like Leave No Child Behind and Race to the Top. Rightly, they claim “our businesses need kids that can read and write.” Talk with business leaders and, yes, reading and writing is nice, but they also need people that can work on teams, think critically and innovate.

Our school system is based on an industrial model. Like an assembly line, we fill up the brains of children (mostly just one side of the brain) with information as efficiently as possible and move them on. Yet, kids are not cars, but individuals. Why not celebrate diversity and encourage them to find and follow their passions? Kids are restless and curious by nature. The goal is to set up conditions that keep them restless and curious, Why not work to foster creativity, rather than penalize it?

Ken offers ideas to teach creatively and reward creativity, often found happening at schools he visits. In fact, there is a growing backlash against this industrial system. More and more people (in and out of the system) understand rote memorization is over-rated and school can and should be relevant. Additionally, Ken doesn’t blame teachers and schools, but does claim they have more leeway than they think. Best of all, Ken’s wit keeps it all far lighter than I’m able in a blog posting 🙂

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One Response to Education System: creating cars or teaching kids?

  1. mkokc says:

    Sir Ken Robinson is genius! He will be speaking at the World Creativity Forum coming up in Oklahoma City. Robinson is sharing the stage with the NY Times' David Pogue and Daniel Pink. Check it out: Nov. 15-17 –

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