When Sir Ken Robinson delivered his first Ted talk, titled “Do schools kill creativity?”, to a small audience in California in 2006, there was no intention of a recording even being posted online. i News reports
Once it was shared, however, his rallying cry for a system that cultivates more than just academic intelligence went on to become the most-viewed Ted video in history.
It has now been watched well over 50 million times – with more than double the hits garnered by the presentations of Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs put together.
The 68-year-old, who has spent the bulk of his career advocating for a framework that has creativity baked in, recalls one minister at the time explaining that they had to fix numeracy and literacy first. His incredulous response: “That’s like saying, ‘let’s make the cake and, if it’s all right, we’ll put the eggs in’.”
He believes too many schools are modeled on Victorian factories; children are put on a production line and churned out at the other end “in batches”.
If anything, his manifesto for change has become more, not less, pertinent in the intervening years. Children face an increasing onslaught of standardised testing and the introduction of the English Baccalaureate in 2010 (which only covers “core” subjects) has seen uptake of music and art plummet.
One gets the impression that Robinson, who has lived in Los Angeles since 2001, has given up on trying to convert governments anyway. He sounds sick of civil servants determined “to keep a clean desk” and the short-termism of MPs “seduced by international league tables”, and who “simply tend to run on railway lines”.“It’s not my role to go round and make life comfortable for politicians who are trying to balance their polling numbers,” he says. “If I can encourage parents and teachers to feel more confident about doing things which are manifestly in the better interests of their kids, then I shall do that.”
Have you watched Ken’s Ted talk video? Will you now? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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