Thursday, November 7, 2013

Blog Assignment #12

Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity
By: Jordan Neely


Ken Robinson discusses how no one knows how the world will be when kids who start school today retire in 2065. No one knows what the world will be like even five years from now, so it is difficult to teach and prepare kids for the world ahead of us that is unknown. He says that creativity is just as important in education as literacy and teachers should treat it equally. I couldn’t agree more. Kids are willing to take a chance; if they don’t know how to do something they will take a chance and try. If you aren’t prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with something original. Kids become afraid of being wrong. Ken tells us that in education now, mistakes are seen as one of the worst things you can make. Therefore, we are educating people out of their creativity. All children are born artist. This means that we grow out of our creativity as we get older because of the education that is given to us. When Ken and his family moved from England to America, he realized how every education system puts English and mathematics at the top and creativity is at the bottom. Dance is not taught as much as mathematics, and it should be. We educate children from the waist up and focus on their heads. The whole purpose of educators nowadays is to create university professors. Typically, professors live only out of their heads. Our education system was invented before the 19-century so it focuses on subjects that would be useful for work, rather than things we enjoy doing. If what you like can’t get you a job, then you aren’t encouraged to focus on it. For instance, don’t do music if you aren’t going to be a musician. This is not true. Some people, who are very creative and great at music or dance, think they aren’t smart. This is because the thing they were good at in school wasn’t valued. Suddenly degrees aren’t worth anything. Back in time, if you had a degree you had a job. Now you have to farther that degree in order to get the job you wanted. People get degrees and move back home and continue on with their lives playing video games because JUST that degree won’t get you anywhere. Now you have to have a Master’s Degree or more to get most desired jobs. ADHD is labeled on several children now. Some children aren’t made to sit still in a desk and be educated. Some are meant to move, dance, and sing! It isn’t that they are sick and need medicine to help them calm down, it’s the fact they are made differently and have different creative interests. We have to celebrate the gift of imagination and allow creativity in the classroom. Our job is to help children make something of their creative ability.

How To Escape Education's Death Valley
By: Kaley McDonald

Ken Robinson is an English author, speaker, and international advisor on education. In this video, he begins by informing his audience that he and his family moved to America twelve years ago and he humorously jokes about, and discusses cultural stereotypes and myths of Americans and the British. He had heard that Americans don't understand irony, but he disagrees with the statement based on the fact that the individual who termed "No Child Left Behind" indeed understands irony because countless children are in fact being left behind. In some parts of the country, 60% of students are dropping out of school and the percentage of the Native American community is at 80. However, the drop rate is only part of the problem. The real issue is that students who are in school don't enjoy it, are not engaged, and are not benefiting from education. Robinson expresses that the reason for this is not because we aren't spending enough money. On the contrary, America spends more money than most countries do on educational purposes and is confronted with infinite suggestions and ideas about how to better our education system. So if the problems can't be mended with more projects, ideas, and money, how will we interest the students and inspire them to learn? Robinson declares that there are three principles on which human life flourishes...

DIVERSITY tacked on a bulletin board
The first of three is that "Humans are naturally different and diverse." Education has become based upon conformity rather than diversity. Schools are encouraged to discover what students can do across a slim range of achievement. Curriculum that focuses on only STEM education, which is an acronym for the fields of study in the categories of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, are necessary, but Robinson speaks truth when he says that a real education should provide equality with the STEM disciplines along with the arts, humanities, physical education, and more. Disengagement is blamed abundantly on the disorder titled attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Yes, this disorder exists, but labeling it upon every child that seems distracted from school work isn't the answer. Robinson says that the children who display the symptoms of this disorder are, for the most part, suffering from childhood, not a psychological condition. Even as adults, if we are burdened with a continuous, dull task, we tend to become bored, distracted, and fidgety. It is the same, but maybe worse for children. Students enjoy and experience success when offered a broad curriculum that emphasizes their numerous talents and abilities, not just a narrow range of them.

curiosity is the most powerful thing you own written on a chalk board
The second principle is "Curiosity." Everyone is born with a natural curiosity to learn, but sometimes the fire of curiosity can be dull and even smothered until there is not even a hint of the flame that was once present. Curiosity is the force that drives us to keep learning and as Robinson puts it, "it is the engine of achievement." Inspiring curiosity in your students could be the best gift you give to them. When students are curious, they will learn without any further assistance. Independent learners are developed by teachers who teach learning instead of educated memorization and facts, i.e. "burp-back education." Robinson refers to this in a way that teaching is a creative profession not a delivery system. Teachers need not only pass on received information, but mentor, stimulate, provoke, and engage students because in the end education is about learning. The dominant culture has transformed education from learning to testing. Tests are meant to support learning, be helpful, and are sometimes necessary, but they shouldn't control education. Stressing the fact that students need to "learn" an enormous amount of information for the purpose of only a test smothers the flame of curiosity and can develop negative results.

Albert Einstein quote
The third and final principle is that "Human life is inherently creative." What makes us human is that we can create and recreate. We have the power to change anything about ourselves and even the world. Sparking student's creativity comes with the responsibility of the teacher to assess students' interests and their focus of curiosity. Teachers must not simply wait around until creativity is integrated into a particular curriculum, we must make it happen! In order to see and experience creative results in our students we must produce and integrate creative elements into dull curriculum ourselves, such as project based learning assignments.

flower in Death Valley
Robinson ends with the purpose of the title of his video. Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California that is the lowest, hottest, and driest area in North America where growth is nonexistant. He explains that nothing grows in this area because it doesn't rain, but in the winter of 2004, Death Valley received seven inches of rain. As a result of that rain, flowers sprouted and flourished in the area during the spring of 2005. This proves that the area isn't dead, it's just dormant. The potential to be great is right underneath the surface, but it needs the right conditions in order for life and growth to be inevitable. As teachers, we must be the rain to the dry soil, exciting the power of imagination, curiosity, and creativity.

Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms
By: Brooklyn Rowland

Sir Ken Robinson starts this talk by saying that there are two reasons we should reform education. The first is economics. Robinson says that we are trying to educate our students in a way that they can take their place in our economy. The problem with that is that we have no idea what our economy will be like next week! The second is cultural. We are trying to educate and teach our students to have a sense of cultural identity. So they don't lose who they are and have a sense of belonging to their culture. At the same time we also want to be globally unified. As Robinson says, "How do you square that circle?". Our main problem is that we are trying to meet the future and prepare for it by doing what we have done in the past and that's simply not going to work. By doing this we are alienating those kids who don't understand or see a point to getting an education.

Everyone says we need to raise the standards. Robinson makes this a joke saying why would we lower them? Raising them only makes sense! Our current education system is designed for a different age, the age of the enlightenment and industrial revolution. He describes our schools as being structured on factory lines. With ringing bells, separated subjects and educating our students in batches. He poses the question, is the most important factor that students have in common their age? We group them based on their date of manufacture. In a world full of computers and video games, 100s of television shows, and iPhones, we have created one of the most boring places for children to be expected to learn. Then we punish these children for getting distracted and not being interested by saying they have ADHD and pumping them full of medication. Robinson talks about the medication we are giving children at such a young age. He says they are anesthetics, medication to shut you down. In all reality all we need to do is wake our students up! Robinson makes it very clear that he is not saying ADHD isn't real, just that it's not an epidemic. I think he wants us to realize that if we just made school more interesting maybe children would need to be so heavily medicated.

I agree with Robinson. Maybe if we made school as fun and interesting as a video game students wouldn't be so distracted and unable to sit still. Maybe they would be as enthralled in class work as they are computers and televisions! It seems that everything goes back to engaging your students. I've mentioned it many, many times before but it is so important. We MUST engage our students in order to have them learn. Burp back education is not something that will be acceptable in my classroom. I want my students to have a desire and a passion for learning! I want them to leave my classroom smarter not because of their grades, but because they actually learned.

Ken Robinson goes on in his talk to dicuss the fact that our education focuses too much on standardization. He says we need to go in the opposite direction. The direction of divergent thinking. Divergent thinking is, as Robinson defines it, the essential capacity for creativity. His example for this is the question "How many uses are there for a paper clip?". You ask this question and normal people might come up with 10-15 ways. But someone who is good at divergent thinking might come up with 200. How? They would say is it a normal paper clip? Can the paperclip be 200 feet tall and made of rubber? They would move outside the realm of the normal paper clip. He talks about a book called Break Point and Beyond this book is a test on divergent thinking that was given to 1500 people, kindergartners, to be exact. Out of these 1500 students 98% of them scored in the genius level. Five years later they tested these same kids, they scored significantly lower. Five more years go by and they test again, and again they scored even lower. This tells us that we all have the capacity to think divergently but we lose it. Why? Because of our education! We are taught that there is only one answer to every question. Only one. Whose fault is this? The teachers? Robinson says no. He says that it is a problem within our educational gene pool. We need a change. But how?

One, we must think differently about human capacity. Robinson says we have to move on from this academic versus vocational way of thinking. It's a myth that some students are academically able while others just can't do it. I think he is right. We are all completely capable of achieving the same level of intelligence. We just have to be shown the way. We are all different and we all learn differently. Our education system is just simply not created equally, because that's not possible. It's not possible for every student to receive an equal education and for them to be expected to get it the same way. We have to change the way we see the learning process.

Two, great learning is done in groups! I think it makes sense to have children learn in groups. Is it not true that students are usually more comfortable with their peers than with adults? So why wouldn't we let them learn from each other whenever possible. Students absorb more from their classmates and friends than they ever would from their teacher. We need to allow them to explore this option and teach them collaboration and teamwork! After all isn't that how things work in the real world, in teams? I don't know of a job where you do not have to work with someone at some point. We need to prepare our students for the real world and life outside our classroom.

Finally, we must change the habits of our institutions and the habitats of them. We can not change education if we do not change the schools. School needs to be stimulating and engaging, not the most boring part of your day. It needs to be a place students want to be, a place they feel comfortable and at home. Most of all it needs to be a place they love. If we can make school a place that our students love to be then we are most definitely on our way to reforming education.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jordan!
    I enjoyed reading your blog. I can tell that your group put some time into it. The only thing I wanted to pointed out is I can't really read your blog because of the white back ground and light blue writing, but other than that it was great!