Sir Ken Robinson bequeathed us a great legacy for the world education

12:14 | 28 март 2022
Обновен: 15:32 | 28 март 2022
Снимка: Pixabay
Снимка: Pixabay

By Zhivka Popatanasova

“If you are not ready to make mistakes, you will never create something original”. This is the belief of a sick boy who says "goodbye” to his dream soccer career but he turned out to be one of the most inspiring personalities in the development of innovation and human resources.

Sir Ken Robinson is born in Liverpool in 1950. At the age of only 4 he became ill with polio, and the severe consequences of the disease predetermined him to start his education in a specialized school. But that doesn't stop him from continuing his studies at prestigious universities, and today his professional success is more than inspiring.

Sir Ken Robinson died in the summer of 2020 but he left behind a huge legacy for world education. It is no coincidence that he is called the modern Leonardo da Vinci of creativity and education.

In 2006 sir Ken Robinson was invited to speak at a TED conference and the topic was “Does the school kill the creativity?”. Few months later his 19-minutes lecture was uploaded online and to this day is one of the most viewed presentations dedicated to education. Now you must be wondering why this lecture is so popular. How is it different from everything we know so far?

The main topics he focused on are two. The first one is that we are all born as artists – with our natural talent for creativity but in school they don’t help us to develop our talents.  The second important question concerns the growing need to change the education systems.

Although 16 years have passed since this lecture, the fundamental principles of children’s education remain in force. It is our responsibility to unleash their potential so that they can meet the challenges of the future - because creativity is no less important than literacy.

Uncertainty is part of this future, but we can be convinced of one thing - the extraordinary possibilities of each child. We do not know what will happen tomorrow, but our children need to be educated - despite the time and circumstances. It is a challenge to be relevant not only to the standards set and the way our children live today, but also to their individuality.

Education systems fail to engage in alternative approaches that require personalized treatment. We cannot fail to note, for example, the achievements of the Finnish education system, which is considered to be the most successful in the world. Finns apply the approach "either we learn about life or exams, but we choose the first". That is why there are no exams in the schools there. There is only one mandatory standard test after high school, but teachers are not particularly interested in its results. The school teaches only what the children will need in their life. Students know from an early age what a contract is, for example, or a bank account, they can also make a business card on the Internet.

Education is evolving, says Trayan Trayanov, executive director and member of the Board of the directors of “Together in Class” Foundation. According to the expert, there is a process of rethinking what it means to be educated, caused by the dynamic changes in the labor market, technological innovation and what some call the rise of the network society. Expectations for educational systems are rising because there is a need not only to impart knowledge, but also to develop in students different social, emotional and cognitive skills and attitudes to the world that will allow them to live fully in this social order, as well as to form and direct it.

The expert also said that our understanding of the way we learn best is deepening. In order to have the so-called "Deep learning" and students to develop key skills and attitudes, should be relied more on natural curiosity and unlocking intrinsic motivation. Students need to have a sense of meaning as they learn and the whole process to stimulate positive emotions in them. In many classrooms in our country, however, points and sub-points continue to be dictated, which students reluctantly write down and then discard and forget as soon as possible.

What teachers do in the most successful educational systems is to give students a much greater role in the learning process, to engage them in learning through experience or in a real environment, or by working with case studies, role-plays and more. In recent years, many innovative practices and trends in education have emerged. One of the methods is project-based learning, in which students identify a real problem and apply strategies to solve it. The children show what they have learned by working with materials from different subjects, explore the connections between the individual lessons, and do not focus on the one that is being taught at the moment. This method manages to make children empathetic to the problem and to develop the soft skills needed later in life.

Therefore, when looking at innovation in education, we must keep in mind that it is complex. We cannot ignore the role of digitalisation, which is key to innovative education, but also to the modern generation, which is growing with the advancement of technology. But digitalisation should not be an end in itself, says expert Trayan Trayanov. Technology can be a useful tool for creativity, exchange, and also a tool that frees teachers from pre-set teaching methods. The new processes redefines the role of the teacher, who must now be a designer of the learning experience, to make students co-authors of what is happening at school and life outside the classroom.

One of the principles underlying modern education systems that Sir Ken Robinson widely criticizes is the hierarchy of subjects. Mathematics and languages are ranked highest, followed by humanities and the arts. He concludes that the reasons for this are back in time, when the world needed completely different knowledge and skills, and industrial, technical and scientific progress were leading in our development. The significance of these objects is by no means questioned, but our times require a different vision. We need new approaches because everyone has their own personal potential and must develop their gifts and talents.

Picasso said that children are born artists, and the problem is to remain ones as they grow up. We were all children and we remember that we were not afraid of the mistakes we made. The fear of failure begins to move us as we grow. And school is often a place where we are shown that it is bad to make mistakes. School is a place where mistakes are punished.

Education is a process that must leave a deep mark on the lives of our children, must reveal the best of them, make them confident and prepared for the future. We do not know what it will bring us, but I wonder how they will accept everything that will happen if they are not taught that it is natural to make mistakes and even more natural to learn from our failures.

THE BOTTOM LINE Education systems fail to engage in alternative approaches that require personalized treatment.