nobody knows what God looks like…

I really like the TED talk by Ken Robinson. I’ve seen it a few times, it’s very popular, but it always resonates. His premise, that schools are killing creativity, sounds radical, but makes complete sense when he uses the examples he does. His story about the young boy who was drawing god, and when told that no-one knew what god looked like responded ‘they will in a minute’ captured that assurance that we want kids to have. He thought for himself, he had the kind of confidence and self belief that we want people to have and he had creativity. The more we learn about the way that children learn, the more we see a disconnect between traditional schooling and actual learning. But what can we do?
Can schools really change so radically? I guess the big question here is ‘what are schools for?’
If we can answer this question then we can have some ideas about where we can go with schooling. At the moment, we might be forgiven for thinking they are for several things, entering University, passing NAPLAN tests, learning that Maths is different to English and teaching kids to sit still and listen. They might even be envisaged as businesses as more and more families choose to pay substantial amounts of money to have thier children educated, schools publicise themselves and roll out large marketing campaigns.
But of course, this is cynical. Schools are full of teachers who do actually care for their charges and do want to do the best they can to prepare them for life. Many a student has been taught to read and to relate well to others because of passionate and dedicated teachers. Lots more teachers see part of their role as socialising students and they take care to use tools such as technology and activities such as discussions and writing tasks to teach them to communicate more effectively. Many students maintain contact with teachers after they have left school because of the care shown to them. So obviously a lot is still going right. And as far as the creativity, lots of teachers encourage creative responses and encourage students to achieve their best by using a variety of methods. This requires creativity from teachers too so while institutions may not necessarily be creative entitiies, there is stil much creativity within these institutions. While he makes a valid statement about the compartmentalisiation of knowledge in schools, Sir Ken’s closing statement about human destruction may be a pertinent one, but still does a disservice to many educators who are working very hard to engage and encourage imagination in their students.