Ken Robinson argues education needs to nurture the seeds of possibility in all students. If the conditions in schools are right for students they’ll flourish. Robinson points out the high-performing education systems in the world such as Finland, Australia, South Korea and Singapore individualize teaching and learning to engage students’ curiosity, individuality, and creativity. He argues a more broad approach in education is needed. Schools need to stop obsessing on science, technology, engineering and math and focus more on physical education, humanities and the arts. Robinson explains:
(T)ake an area, a school, a district, you change the conditions, give people a different sense of possibilities, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners, you offer people the discretion to be creative and to innovate in what they do, and schools that were once bereft spring to life.
Robinson explains we could learn other lessons about improving our education. The high-performing education systems in the world attribute a high status to the teaching profession. Robinson explains you need great people to teach and give them the ongoing support and professional development they need to do their best. He argues that professional development is not a cost; professional development is an investment.
I agree with Ken Robinson. What can I say. He has hit the nail right on the head ( my Dad was a carpenter). Schools need to respect students’ curiosity, individuality, and creativity and give them a different range of possibilities, expectations and opportunities so they can flourish as students. The education system also needs to respect the teaching profession by ensuring the best people become teachers and provide them with the on going support and professional development they need so they can flourish as teachers.
I’ve posted the Ken Robinson video below so you can hear and see him speak. Robinson is very entertaining as he calls for a revolution in the education system.
Often, especially early in my teaching career, I’ve felt as if I was just a clog in the education system or maybe just a type of resource for the education system to use. I’m a resource because I have certain qualities and skills the system needs and can use. The system decides how to use its resources (me) to its best advantage. I really have little say in how the system uses me. Oh yes, I get to fill out that little piece of paper to tell administration what classes I would prefer to teach but the fine print say that might not happen. I might be asked to teach something I’m not qualified to teach because that’s what I’m needed for. For example, because I good with kids who are academically at risk, I was assigned to teach cooking to a grade 10 class of academically at risk students. They could barely read. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t qualified to teach cooking, the system needed me to teach cooking because the real cooking teacher wasn’t good with academically at risk students. The system needed a peaceful class (no problems for admin) so I got placed in the cooking class. Teaching that cooking class was so scary because most of the time I had no idea what to do. I thought I’d die when just after a class on knife safety, one of my students cut his finger. I was so mad that I had to teach the class, I gave the poor lad a paper towel and told him to go to the office and not drip blood all over the floor. Talk about empathy!!! I felt badly afterwards and apologized to the student. I felt badly for myself too. I could have refuse to teach the cooking class. I could have said no, but then I wouldn’t have a job. I would be a resource the system had no use for. Thankfully, I only had to teach that class once. There have been lots of examples in my career when I felt as if the education system treated my like a resource. Thinking back I’m beginning to wonder why I loved teaching so much.
Do you ever feel as if you are a clog or a resource used by the educational system? Do you think that’s just the way it is or do you think we could change the education system so it doesn’t treat teachers like a resource?
When I was a student, I loved being in the drama club and playing volleyball and basketball on the junior and senior teams at my high school. I wasn’t a star by any means, but I was a member of the drama club and a member of the team which was important at that time. Those extracurricular activities made my life almost bearable during my teen years. I wanted school to be more than just the 3 rs. I didn’t just want to be in a classroom living in my head during my school years. I longed to be part of something more than a class. eEtracurricular activities enabled me to satisfy my longing to part of something more than a class. When I became a teacher, I decided I would participate in extracurricular activities to enable students to benefit from extra curricular activities much the way I had benefited all those years ago. Imagine my surprise when I realized that as a teacher I was still benefiting from participating in extra curricular activities. I recognize students participate in extracurricular activities for many reasons, not just the reasons I had for participating . Extra curricular activities are important for students in many ways.
I’ll be honest here. Participating in extra curricular activities is important for me as a teacher because participating in extracurricular activities would often help make my classrooms more bearable . Over the years some of my classes have been very challenging- to say the least. Many of my academically at risk students were disengaged from school. They were only at school because the law said they had to be at school. I felt really great when I got to see students who were disengaged from the classroom become more and more engaged in the classroom because they were began participating in extracurricular activities such as basketball, football or yes even the knitting club. I’ll admit I got to see my academically at risk students in a different more positive light during extracurricular activities and my students got to see me in a different light too that resulted in a more positive student/teacher relationship. That is a very good thing.
When I think of school and the student body, I think of classrooms as the head of the student body and extracurricular activities as the heart of the student body.We need to balance the head and the heart of the student body. Life is not only lived in the head, but it is also lived in the heart. Students’ school experience and yes even teachers’ school experience needs to include developing and satisfying the needs of their heads and hearts, and when teachers are told not to participate in extracurricular activities for political reasons, students and teachers suffer.
I should complete my MEd by the end of July. I’ve really enjoyed the journey thus far. I completed my teacher training over 30 years ago and am enjoying revisiting education issues once again after all this time. Some things have changed but somethings haven’t changed. I must confess, I’m always envious of new teachers because their training is more recent, and they know a lot of things I don’t know. A lot has happened in education in 30 years. I like to keep on top of things so I’m always eager to learn from new teachers and to share what has worked for me. I like the Board’s mentoring program because it allows
old experienced teachers like me to share with new teachers and vice a versa. Experienced teachers and newbie teachers have a lot to give one another. I bet newbie teachers don’t know how much they can help experienced teachers. I’ve retired from classroom teaching now, but I’d love to go back and share what I’ve learned with other teachers that helped me be successful in my classroom. Newbie teachers have shown me how to use new digital technology in the classroom that helped make my classes more engaging for my students. What are some things you’ve learned from newbie teachers?