Sir Ken on the Learning Revolution

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Bring on the Learning Revolution – Sir Ken Robinson…!!!

Following his hugely popular TEDtalk in 2006, Sir Ken Robinson returned to TED again in 2010 with another entertaining outlook on what needs to change in the education system in order to ensure a better future for our children. As we mentioned in our previous article, we came across his first talk around 2010, so we got to see the second one right after viewing the first one. Just as the first one opened our eyes to the loopholes in the modern education system, the second one gave us the much-needed guidance on how to approach Aarohi’s homeschooling. Once we decided to keep Aarohi away from conventional schooling, the most important thing was to get an idea about the pitfalls of learning in the education system and how to keep away from them.

Sir Ken picks up the talk right out of the ending of his first one with reference to Al Gore’s revelation of the unprecedented climate change that we, as a species, is facing in today’s world. He again uses his much-loved humor to make a very serious point, aligning the climate crisis of natural resources to the crisis of human resources. He points out that we make very poor use of our talents, most of the times going through our whole lives without the faintest idea of what our talent might be. He regularly comes across people who hate their jobs and then again, he also meets people who are so much in love with what they do, they would rather die than not do it. Unfortunately, the latter is in the minority. He then implores us to look at the education system as the main culprit in this case scenario.

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Education is supposed to provide the platform on which the talent of people can come out and shine. On the contrary, modern day education is killing their will to even show up, let alone demonstrate their talent. Good news is people are looking at reforming the education system, but there is no point in reforming a system that is broken, there is a need for a revolution to change it altogether. He goes ahead to quote the American President Abraham Lincoln and makes the point that it’s not that the system needs to change, instead, we need a new system altogether. We need to distance ourselves from the system we are so used to, that we take for granted that it works. Just like the use of a wrist watch is outdated now, so is the concept of systematic education that is based on the idea that every child is the same.

There is no point in reforming a system that is broken, there is a need for a revolution to change it altogether.

The biggest problem with learning in the modern education system is that it adheres to a linear path to learning. Life itself is not linear, but organic. The whole idea of going to school is based on the ambition to go to college. At this point, to the delight of his audience, Sir Ken brings up another one of his amazing stories about a Fireman who ended up saving the life of the very teacher who had discouraged him from becoming one, when he was in school. Next, he refers to a policy statement which said – “College begins in kindergarten.” Using his trademark humor, Sir Ken debunks this policy, pointing out that there is so much pressure on little kids to succeed in their education that they never get the time to be children. They are being interviewed by unimpressed panels to get an entrance in kindergarten. The problem is not only that the system is all wrong; it is that we are so willing to put our kids through this horrible experience without even giving it a moment’s thought. He aligns the education system to how we are addicted to fast food and claims it to be depleting us at the same level.

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Kids are being interviewed by unimpressed panels to get an entrance in kindergarten.

This brings up the most important reason for the need to change the education system, and that is Diversity in aptitude. Saying goes, “No two leaves on a tree are similar, how can two human beings be.” He shares a funny anecdote about him and Eric Clapton receiving their first guitars at about the same time in their lives. Eric Clapton went on to become one of the most legendary Guitarists in history and Sir Ken went on to affect the lives of people like us through reform in education. Two very distinct ways of touching the lives of the masses, but similar in their scope. The most important thing to recognize what an individual is passionate about. If the education that our children are getting doesn’t feed their energy or passion, they will grow weary of it in an instant and start fidgeting and looking for other means of engagement. At this point, he goes on to elaborate on the specifics of how the education system should be changed to ignite the spark of creativity in children and then nurture it through their growing years. The education system has to move from an Industrial model to the model based on the principles of Agriculture.

The most important thing to recognize what an individual is passionate about.

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As parents, this is the approach we are taking with Aarohi’s education. We’ve populated our entire house with things that we feel would be interesting to her. Sooner or later she gravitates to one of those things and then we do that for as long as she wants to engage with it. Eventually, she wants to move on to other things and so we go ahead and do that other thing. We’ve put special effort into making these things as diverse as possible. It may vary from Arts and Crafts material to storybooks to educational toys to musical instruments to an iPad to even the simple act of watching a cartoon together on television. Not only that, we also engage in a ton of outdoor activities, like Ballet Dancing, Kids Theatre, Museum Tours, Science Co-op and play dates with her homeschooling mates. We visit the parks and beaches on a regular basis as well as indoor Fun Cities. All of this part of her growing process along with the source of her education. We will elaborate on each one of these in subsequent articles. For now give a listen to Sir Ken’s life altering talk and enjoy:

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