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Changing educational paradigms


This is an entertaining and thought-provoking animation based on a talk by Sir Ken Robinson. A colleague put me on to it. Not sure what you think, but a few thoughts occurred to me:
  • Some actual knowledge needs to be transmitted to children before they can think in usefully creative ways. In science you need the basics of Newtonian physics, chemical reactions and the like before you can move to higher levels.
  • Some fields of learning, such as my own (second language learning) are about acquiring skills and knowledge and the most efficient ways may not necessarily be the most creative - aspects such behaviourist repetiton can go a long way.
  • Economic necessities mean that what Sir Ken calls "batch" systems and the traditional classroom are difficult to avoid.
  • I am not sure I agree with him when he says children do not believe that getting a degree will lead them to a good job. Many children but into the system and know how to make it work for their benefit.
  • Ken makes an assumption that children find their education boring. This is not always true!
  • Grouping children by age usually makes sense, socially and educationally, doesn't it?
  • He is absolutely right that we are heavily conditioned by the division between academic and non-academic learning. Policies such as languages for all up to 16 and the Ebacc have been attempts to break down this division. All children, these initiatives assumed, can access so-called academic subjects.
  • To a large extent, new technologies notwithstanding, we are still doing what we did in the 1950s and we find it hard to escape traditional thinking in education.
  • Politicians and parents conspire in maintaining the status quo. We seem to value testing, uniforms and conformism.
  • Sir Ken, as others have done, seems to dislike the division of the curriculum into subjects. How, in practice, can this be avoided?
  • We are in the habit of bemoaning the failures of our education system. We could look down the other end of the telescope and claim that it is remarkably successful, given the challenges schools face.
  • Is it a coincidence that all developed countries have developed systems with great similarities? No, because despite their limitations, they actually work rather well.

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