English Classes with TED: Sir Ken Robinson on Changing Education

We’re continuing our English Classes using TED talks with a talk by Sir Ken Robinson animated by RSA on the modern education system. According to the TED website, here’s why you should listen to what Sir Robinson has to say about education:

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

Why don’t we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it’s because we’ve been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies — far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity — are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. It’s a message with deep resonance. Robinson’s TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? “Everyone should watch this.”

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

Below you can watch the animated version of Sir Robinson’s talk. This particular talk is not subtitled, but the illustrations should make it much easier to understand. Beneath the video you’ll find a list of reading questions.

  1. What are the two main reasons Sir Robinson says every country is trying to reform education?
  2. How has students’ perception of education changed in recent years?
  3. During what period was the modern (European) education system developed?
  4. What does Sir Robinson say is “Deep in the gene pool of public education?”
  5. Where do people “start to lose interest” in the United States? What does Sir Robinson mean by this?
  6. What adjective does Sir Robinson use to describe the ADHD epidemic?
  7. According to Sir Robinson, what are we doing to children to get them through education?
  8. What does he compare the modern education system to?
  9. What is “divergent thinking?”
  10. What happens to our ability to use divergent thinking as we go to school?

You can email us your answers, write them in comments, or take an English class with us and discuss this video.