Time Magazine interviews the British author and educationalist Sir Ken Robinson after the realease of his book Finding your Element.
Watch the interview and answer the questions below.
1 What features of an individual does mass education kill?
2 Apart from homemakers and carers, what three other professions does he mention?
3 Why is it even more difficult to get to know oneself these days?
4 What do we have to find ourselves at some point during our day or during our week?
5 What does the US have one of the highest rates of in the developed world?
6 How can we make school more attractive to children?
7 What does Ken Robinson say about teachers in Finland?
8 What does 'eight' refer to?
Ken Robinson, or as he’s known in some circles, Sir Ken, is an educator, an author, a speaker. He’s got a new book called Finding your Element. And I’m delighted to say that he’s here with us today. Sir Ken, welcome.
Thank you, Brenda, it’s a real pleasure.
I believe this passionately. That we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it.
Your TED talk was a kind of grand vision on how education systems were killing children’s creativity. And this book, Finding your Element, it’s more kind of self-help. Did you scale down your ambition?
No, part of the argument of that TED talk was an attempt really just to say that there are features of mass education which militate against (1) individuality and, and creativity. So at the heart of my argument for what should happen in education is the different conception of talent and ability and what drives people. And that’s what book is about.
Explain for people who, in our way, what, what is this thing called ‘the element’.
There are some people who don’t enjoy the work they do at all. But I also meet people who love what they do, and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. If you said to them, why don’t you try something else for a change?, they wouldn’t know what you meant. They’d say this isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. And they could be anything. They could be homemakers, they could be carers, (2) they could be veterinarians, they could be cabinet makers, teachers, name it. If you think of any occupation that anybody could do or life they could lead, some people will love it and other people couldn’t bear it for five minutes. And the common expression we use for that is that they are in their element. It’s, what it is that chimes so strongly with your own sense of who you are, that you feel you’re at your most natural when you’re doing it.
So, how do we find our element?
I have no idea.
Good, well, we’re done.
We’re all finished. It’s really a two-way journey. It’s an inward journey. You have to learn more about yourself. A lot of people don’t know themselves very well, I think, and, and I think it’s possibly even a greater risk now than maybe previously because (3) there’s so much clutter out there. There’s so much distraction. There’s so much, so many demands on your time and attention. So part of the book is to encourage people to look inwardly and to learn more about their talents and themselves, and what it is that, that ignites their energy. But it’s also an outward journey. It’s finding out things, more things about the world around you. Taking opportunities.
What about, I mean, there are jobs that people just have to do. They have to be done but would not seem to be inspiring anybody’s passion.
My argument is not that you have to do this sort of thing for a living but that you owe it to yourself to find some point in the week or the day, in your life, where (4) you do things that really fulfil you, that you find are speaking to you in a different way than the things that you just have to get done.
It seems to me that what you are describing should be something we learn at school like this is what education is for. Why aren’t schools doing this?
Well, that’s my point, really, that part of the transformation we need in education is to think differently about talent. On international comparisons, the US has (5) one of the highest non-graduation rates from high school in the developed world despite spending more money on education than many countries. And one of the reasons is that kids at school don’t find it engaging, interesting, fulfilling, relevant.
So how do we improve that?
I think we improve it (6) by making education a much more personal process. We individualize it. I can’t imagine there’s a student in America who gets up in the morning wondering how they can improve the state’s test scores. They are like you and me. They get involved in education if it is interesting, if it speaks to them.
Is there a country that’s doing it better than America, that we, that we, you could observe?
The one that’s most often quoted, and you have to be careful how you quote it, but it’s worth referring to, Finland. And Finland has attracted attention globally as having one of the most successful education systems. What’s interesting about Finland is, they don’t have any standardized testing. They don’t promote competition between the schools, they promote collaboration and cooperation between them. It’s not a command-and-control system, head teachers have massive discretion over the school, and (7) teachers that are respected professionals, they’re paid well, it’s hard to become a teacher, and they’re well supported when they become teachers. At almost every point, it’s different from the way we do things in America.
As a child, you were stricken with polio. How has affected the direction that your life has moved.
Completely. My father had been a semi-professional soccer player, and he used to say to me, apparently, he’s gonna be the football player in the family, because I was very fast and strong. Then there was this polio epidemic that swept across America and Europe. I got it. So (8) I was in hospital for eight months and I came out on two braces and crutches, and my dad was quite clear about it. He left school when he was 14. He said, it’s perfectly clear, he said, that you’re not gonna be able to make a living doing manual work. You’re gonna have to use your head. So, you know, it wasn’t an easy context overall, coming from. Nothing seemed less probable when I was lying in hospital in 1954 that I’d be doing what I’m do now.
Sir Ken, thank you so much.
It’s a pleasure.