Not Just a Teacher

binge thinking on technology and education

Not Just a Teacher

We all love Ken

May 26th, 2013 · 3 Comments · General

Before I get into this post, let’s make one thing really clear… I really like Sir Ken Robinson. I really like listening to his talks. As a speaker and the messages he gives are, on the whole, quite brilliant. But, am I the only person beginning to think what’s the point? Where is being a Ken fan really getting us?

Now, try and hold on to your simmering rage here. Of course we all love Ken and despite the fact that I have moved to the other side of the world, that feeling seems just as strong here. In a conversation the other day with a primary school senior manager, she began telling me how much she loved the RSA Animated – Changing Paradigm and how she had watched it numerous times. This sort of comment has been said to me many times by all manner of educators from student teachers to principals, Education Authority decision makers to educational consultants. Added to this, I see tweet upon retweet of Ken’s latest offering – How to Escape Education’s Death Valley suggested to all who will watch and listen. So, all in all, I am of the mind that considering his “three talks have been viewed an astounding 21.5 million time” (TED blog), Sir Ken Robinson and his message are near enough ubiquitous in the education community.

But what I am getting at here, is how much is actually been done about it? Who can honestly say that their school have or they know a school that has put some or all of Sir Ken’s suggestions into practice?

Or has it all become like some adverts (commercials) on TV, entertaining and visually stunning but seen too many times for them to make an impact?

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Alan O'Donohoe

    Nick. You are absolutely right in your introduction when you question the impact that these inspirational talks are having on existing models of education.

    I liken the concept of bringing about policy change in education to the metaphor of the super tanker that needs to radically change course. In order to change direction, like the swing of the pendulum, it first needs to slow down in it’s current path, come to a halt, set a new bearing and then set off on it’s new course. Unfortunately, our current educational models are so deeply embedded in our culture that the problem is significantly larger than the supertanker syndrome.

    Because of the high stakes culture now in education, school leaders are unwilling to take risks that may jeopardise their schools’ success [UK dogma judges the success of schools by their standing in league tables and Ofsted reports]. Unfortunately, there are no national measures for comparing or reporting how innovative a school, teacher or leader is.

    My motives for starting Hack To The Future and the Raspberry Jam movements were to demonstrate that there are alternative ways to run an educational system other than tinkering about making small changes to the exisiting classroom model. You yourself saw some very early experiments when you attended an event at our school in October 2011. At the moment, there are some radical shifts I want to introduce to the Jams & Hacks, but I fear I will be ruled off as a crackpot or looney [if I've not already achieved this status]. From September, I will be a little more free to experiment with the Hacks & Jams with the freedom that the Digital Makers grant has brought me, and I will be documenting these.

    “Transformational change is radical and often drastic, and differs from developmental (small incremental steps) or transitional (dismantling the old state and rebuilding the new in a series of transition steps). It involves discontinuity, a shift in assumptions and a willingness to work with complexity. Transformational change requires a shift in mindset, behaviour and ways of working together. Change management, and cultural change, are inherent parts of a successful transformation process.” taken from C4EO.

    I definitely have been inspired by the Ken Robinson talks, but more than just being inspired, I have actually gone out and sought to bring about this kind of change. However, my problem is that I think I have failed to communicate my vision clearly. When I attempt to describe it to new audiences, because it is different, they seek to compare it to contemporary school to understand it. That’s why I get asked questions about lesson plans, learning outcomes, assessment objectives, homeworks, setting etc. Luckily, I have connected with some talented people who share similar viewpoints to me and we will bring about change together. Ken Robinson is a visionary. I wonder how much more impactful his talks would be if we could watch as he transforms an education system somewhere.

    With great risk comes great reward, and of course the fear of failure [which is an excellent way to learn]. I would encourage everyone to take risks in their teaching [not anything to cause physical harm of course] , only by taking risks can we establish where boundaries lie.

    I suggest that this film here of 13 year old Amy should accompany a Ken Robinson talk- http://tinyurl.com/AmyJamboree

  • Mike

    My daughter is 11 years old and is also learning to code on a raspberry pi and with Lego robots as well as other tech adventures. She tweets about her adventures @kid_pi and her blog is at http://raspberrypikid.wordpress.com
    She did a presentation at a conference about all of the tech she has experience with and it’s in my dropbox. Check it out, it’s impressive for an 11 year old: https://mail.rcoe.us/owa/redir.aspx?C=slGo33BFCkaKk8TnKGXYAruIv58-MdAI-Czz2N9YW3Yc6xsNQtZBHv37ajBIU8QQZmQTXhVAGGg.&URL=http%3a%2f%2fdl.dropbox.com%2fu%2f10328230%2fTop10Reasons.ppsx
    It’s a huge file and is a self-running PowerPoint show, so just sit back and enjoy, no need to click anything. It shows her Pi, Lego Segway, Lego electric guitar, science fair projects, etc.

    Proud dad,
    Mike

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