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Disagree: Sir Ken Robinson provides lots of problems with our education system. What statements do you think he gets wrong?

What particular statement do you most disagree with in his speech? Provide insight and evidence as to why you think we have it right in the way we are doing it and why you think he is wrong. 


Please make sure you respond to 2-3 other educators responses as well.

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Since 2007, British author Sir Ken Robinson has been dazzling educators with his YouTube Talks.

He is the undisputed education rock star and his polished video lectures drive home two key messages: modern education is outmoded and schools kill creativity. He pops up everywhere, but most notably in films like We Are the People We’ve Been Waiting For and on TED Talks (See )

His "Changing Paradigms" and "Schools Kill Creativity" videos are strange because they preach creativity through the traditional didactic lecture. I like his wry sense of humour but wonder if he is another in a long line of "school change" wizards. Take away the clever animation and it's a highly personal interpretation of the evolution of educational thought.

With millions of hits, I am suspicious. Is he preying on those who know little about the history of educational thought? Where's the creativity in a didactic messianic speech? And, are those furiously copying his message down aware of what he is really saying? (He's spouting "divergent thinking" but seems to be attracting a herd of sheep!)

School superintendents who herd teachers into gyms to listen to Sir Ken...need to be asked a few tough questions: If the system is obsolete, then how did it get that way? And who is in charge, anyway? Most significantly, where's the room for "divergent thinking" in this school system?


Thank you for your voice and for participating in the discussion. You have some great points. I wonder if he chose a different format to present his ideas in if it would have reached as many people? It seems like this video has kind of gone 'viral' in the education rounds - or among educators that are connected and participating in global discussions. 


Just to add a couple of links for your post - the link you included went to the original video. 

Trailer: We are the people we've been waiting for

Summary :We are the people we've been waiting for


I can't exactly say that I disagree with any of his statements.  Rather I think he misses some points that are important in the grouping of students in classrooms.  Grouping by age allows students to feel comfortable in the learning process, and comfortable with students of their own age.  I am not much for speaking about feelings, but we do need to take into account a students "self perception".  What if we have a Sophomore in high school that is taking Algebra, and next to him is a 7th grader.  Both have the ability to perform Algebra but what is the Sophomore thinking, "I must be stupid" seems to be the first answer that comes to my mind.  We may have created a regretful learner, this older kid may see more of his faults than his abilities because of the mixed classroom. 

I do not dismiss that student ability should be considered greatly in the educational process, but how do you do that with the concepts of economics.  Smaller schools such as ours doesn't allow for divergent learning and teaching on such a scale as Ken is speaking of.  In conversation with others in the building I think we are for that type of environment.  We unfortunately see the restrictions we have on making it happen; staff numbers and room availability. 

Mike, I agree you can't be putting fourth graders in with high school students, but would it be feasible to divide school in Primary, Intermediate, Middle School and High School and let kids work at group levels within those boundries?

I agree that we must consider "self perception," but we already have this problem.  Elementary students almost all know we currently ability group students.  They know who the "smart" kids are and who are the not so smart. Being the best and the smartest and the furthest ahead is a goal of the human race. 

How do we fix this problem?

I have my own personal science/psychology experiment at home.  I have a child on the high end, and two (who seemingly are the same) who fall into middle and low classifications.  Two are pleasers and the other struggles to just please the self.  All have been raised with the same standards at home. All have attended the same schools; they have even had the same teachers. They should all function the same, right???  They all get the same thing, they should all be equal.  

We are all individuals and we are like nobody else who ever was or will be. Yet somehow that is not OK. It so often feels bad to be different. Inadequacy sucks...




I agree!!  Kids already know what's going on around them.  Each one is different and that is what makes them unique and we are killing that uniqeness.  I think we over think and as adults we create more problems for students than whats really there.  Matter of fact I don't really like my argument that much after reading your reply!!



Wouldn't grouping by motivation styles be interesting?

It is hard to be different on both ends of the spectrum.

(This was supposed to be under Lori's comment about "It often feels bad to be different)

Mike - How would things change if the educational setting was changed to something other than the traditional 'subjects' we are all used to. Would it work for a team of kids to build a shed and to have a 7th grader and a sophomore working together and can they all learn valuable skills? Can this type of scenario teach them and meet standards? Maybe in a more meaningful way? If there are a lot of us in agreement that we would like to see this happen, I think we can be creative and make it happen even if we think there are barriers. Maybe this is where we start from to make a change.

Perhaps it was that working together everywhere else is collaboration, but in school it's cheating.  Yes we must teach working together and that is where the world is headed but there is also I think still a large percentage of "I will collaborate with you so long as it helps me but if I get a chance to keep something from you to improve me I'm going to do that as well."  We must teach all of them to think and work for themselves, Lest they be eaten by the Capitalists.  Sorry, I've been reading a lot of Zinn lately.

Schools do tend to kill creativity and to tacitly accept social promotion. Neil Postman was right all along...

It's more critical to set the sights higher and to challenge students. That applies to individual task assignments as well as collaborative work teams. Otherwise, overuse of cooperative learning tends to lead to dumbing down the classroom.

Creativity is connected with individual imagination and group work often degenerates into "collective risk aversion."

I'm surprised that Kieran Egan's work is so little known. ( His book The Future of Education shows how true Imaginative/ Inventive Education must rest upon core knowledge ( as opposed to romantic, feather weight progressivism). That's a huge gaping hole in Sir Ken's universe.



Not to mention that collaboration can often be the likes of "a tick on a dog's back"!!  Or "hornflies on a cow's back"!  Or "a tapeworm in horse's stomach"!  The list could go on, I agree with Brian, where do you teach indepent thinking and doing?



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