Sir Ken Robinson has spoken about the three principles on which “human life flourishes”, and highlighted ways in which the current education system fails all three.
In an inspiring TED Talk, the renowned educationalist discusses what he calls a “culture of standardization”, and how our teaching methods and curriculums are flawed in comparison with others internationally, namely Finland. “Education is about learning,” he said. “If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on.” Robinson argues that the current system is counterintuitive to learning, and does not cater to individual students.
The three principles
According to Robinson, the three principles that are endemic to growth and development are as follows:
Robinson notes that the system as it is fails all three, something that can be seen when examining the first point. The increased presence of STEM subjects and the reduction in arts and creative subjects only caters to some students, and only appeals to a portion of their strengths. “A real education has to give equal weight to the arts, the humanities, to physical education,” he adds.
Robinson also discusses the fact that “children are natural learners”, and that by having excellent teachers in place, children can be free to truly learn. Rather than adopt a “control and command” classroom management style, a teacher that wants to get the most out of students should enable them to learn independently. According to Robinson, great teachers “mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage.”
Looking at the third principle, Robinson argues that the high-performing education systems are so because they “individualize” education and learning. Where students in the UK and US are compelled to move through what Robinson describes as “routine algorithms”, students in countries such as Finland are encouraged to be creative, try new things, and engage in different methods of learning.
Standardized testing and teaching styles
Along with the system’s inability to foster the three principles, Robinson also examines the relationship that teaching methods have on the development of students. He hails teachers as the “lifeblood” of the success of schools, and encourages more educators to adopt growth mindset teaching styles that cater to the individual talents and interests of students.
Finally, Robinson also discourages the use of standardized testing as a benchmark for the success or intelligence of a student. “Standardized tests have a place,” he says, “but they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic. They should help.”