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.
For the past few weeks I’ve been getting a whole slew of email requests for advertising space on my blog. This week I got an email asking me if I would like to advertise an essay writing site. I instantly saw “plagiarism” in large red letters in my minds eye. I am not going to promote plagiarism’. Obviously, I thought, they didn’t realize I was a teacher or they wouldn’t have asked me to consider promoting plagiarism. Then I thought perhaps someone was trying playing some kid of weird joke on me by asking if I would advertise an essay writing site. I wrote back and asked if the email was a joke and explained that I was a teacher and strongly opposed to plagiarism.I asked if the author of the email was kidding. The response was something to the effect ‘money is kidding”. I wrote back and said it was a matter of ethics not money.
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?
By the end of July I should complete the requirements for my MEd. I’ve really enjoyed the journey toward my MEd. Although I’ve loved being a teacher, I love being a student too. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do to replace the intellectual stimulation of the courses I’ve been taking. I like having to stretch my brain to read and understand the required academic articles and then write papers about them. I don’t find the process easy, but I love doing it. I guess there are many things that are difficult but fun to do. What do you find difficult but fun to do?