Ken Robinson is the leading voice in synthesizing the education system and trends for laypeople. He gives a powerful critique on standardization and the school model that the Western world has maintained more or less since the enlightenment period. I mostly agree (especially in regards to the tracking of students based on age, the standardization of their study and the limitation of what we are preparing them for – namely, 4-year schools and certainly not the arts, or technical careers).
Ken Robinson’s closing remarks on where we go from here (in general terms, which he is good at):
“This isn’t because teachers want it this way. It’s just because it happened this way. It’s in the gene pool of education. We have to think different about human capacity. We have to get over this old conception of academic, non-academic, abstract, theoretical, vocational, and see it for what it is: a myth. Second, We have to recognize that most great learning happens in groups, that collaboration is the stuff of growth. If we atomize people and separate them and judge them separately we form a kind of disjunction between them and their natural learning environment. And thirdly, it’s crucially about the culture of our institutions, the habits of the institution and the habitats that they occupy.”
Signs of positive change in the manner Sir Robinson is indicating include:
- Increase diversity of school types (magnet, immersion, charter, online/distance, environmental, etc.): This sign of experimentation in school culture and theme identity is positive because it shows a divergence from the the former culture of homogenized learning – where some once strove (and many still strive) for a degree of standardization such that every school to be teaching the same thing at the same time.
- The decline of the 4-year degree: sad though it may seem, for as long time we have been pushing people towards the “academic” disciplines as if they are inherently superior to the arts, vocational and technical training programs – as if trade mastery cannot compliment academic mastery OR be as fulfilling. This bubble is popping. Watch for a renaissance of vo-tech (the surge of STEM, I believe, is in part due to this)
Q: What do you think? What trends do you see of positive change in our schools and education system at large?