Continue the Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson

I came late to this session; the good folks at DiscoveryEducation had to reconcile my two accounts so that I could give my students access. It didn’t take long, but it was a hassle getting to Sir Ken’s session. The Lodge did not have internet access and I could not access my online schedule.

Late with Sir Ken is better than not at all. His continued conversation was Leading a Culture of Innovation. At my point of entry, Sir Ken was discussing the dichotomy of stereotypes regarding scientists v. the humanities. Artists work with as much discipline as a scientist, but unfortunately over the years, schools have started dropping the arts, notably art and music.

Everyone has profound creative abilities, but the whole school/organization has to have those opportunities developed. Education has a misconception about special things: art and music. Students have very little time to work on projects of interest in a school day. Major enterprises depend on the creative spark, yet they allow 10 – 20 minutes for a creative presentation pitching a new idea. The audience responded to Sir Ken’s question about who is creative, and the audience answers included people like David Bowie or Lady GaGa who break down stereotypes. Lenny Henry, who is like a polite Chris Rock, is a hugely successful entertainer in Britain; he left school at 15 with no qualifications. He left school because he was always being punished for jokes and sent to the office. Then he found a new teacher who told him to write scripts because he was very funny, and the rest was history. The teacher took him to The Comedy Store and 4 years later he was on television. Teachers should not put students down but encourage them to find and develop their talent. Often we fear others’ abilities, though.

Creativity is about everything; every discipline has creativity, but we and the disciplines have become stereotyped. The creative process in science and the arts are not different; you are testing hypotheses, creating solutions. The process starts and the outcome begins. The knowledge that comes out of the arts and sciences is different, but the basic process is the same. You do need to have a content knowledge and your work depends on that, but if you want to be creative in the discipline, the process is the same. We use different processes of knowing to understand different things. All Our Futures is the outcome (on SKRs website) of a collaborative creative process. The system did not like the report because it took the focus off national literacy tests; it was about the theory of change at the grass roots.

The industrialized lifestyle has removed us from some of the values of life we once held. Big shifts happen. In Sir Robert’s 20s, everyone smoked; the idea that a decade or two later smoking would be banned was unthinkable. Going green was a fringe idea two decades ago; now companies compete to be the greenest. Through the process of industrialization, we are dealing with crises we do not even understand. Male and female births have shifted (more girls than boys) and some feel that pollution and chemicals are affecting fundamentals of life. Chemicals are a century old, and now we need to look for an ethically sustainable method of living, an organic lifestyle. Digital lifestyles are not the only ways to move forward. We need to reinvent the older ways and bring them back. How we farm needs to go back to gentler non-chemical ways.

The Dahli Lama, Eckert Tolle, the founder of eBay, Desmond Tutu’s daughter, Matthew Richart, and Sir Ken met for a moderated conversation for 1.5 hours with an audience. The discussed world peace through personal peace. Be the change you want to be. Don’t wait for someone to change for you. Anger results from perceptions, so you need to feel the peace you want to promote because you can’t promote what you do not feel. You need to find a way to reconcile your own talents and abilities, and in doing that, you bring about a better world. Think through your purpose and examine your values because they drive who you are. Behave differently and values change. That’s what we need to do in schools, and we need to take our own responsibility to do it. It’s not too late; life is not a one-way street and you can always double back and take a new journey. Have we used all our talent, everything we’ve got, and isn’t that what we need to do with our students?

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