Gallup sends regular updates to those who are registered with their services and often times they include interesting articles that relate back to strengths-based education or general education discussions. Below is an article from their most recent listserv about needing a new approach to education. Sir Ken Robinson claims that it is not legislation and testing requirements that is going to improve our education systems, but it is the ideas of creativity, diversity and maintaining an organic experience that will drive education to the next level.
Sir Ken Robinson calls for a radical transformation in education
“For most companies now, creativity and innovation are bottom-line issues. And the great irony … is that our education policies, which are meant to be serving the needs of the economy, are stifling both of those qualities through standardization and compliance,” says Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation.
Robinson called for a radical transformation in education during his presentation to the 2012 Gallup Strengths in Education Conference. Legislation like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Robinson says, won’t bring about that transformation because it contradicts three fundamental principles of human life.
First, to be a human being is to live a life that is essentially creative. “We create our lives in the way that’s not true of any other species on earth,” Robinson says. The second key principle is diversity, which gives humanity its texture, its dynamic, its vibrancy, its color, and a sense of possibility. The third principle is that human life is organic, “an interaction between ourselves and our environment.”
Yet these three principles are contradicted by most education systems. “Our education systems don’t promote creativity, they promote conformity. They don’t promote diversity, they promote compliance. And they don’t promote organic development; they’re premised on the opposite idea, [which is] linear development,” Robinson says.
It will take a radical transformation to re-imagine education to arrive at a system that promotes creativity, diversity, and organic development. The problem begins when politicians call for a move to get “back to basics” in education, because as Robinson says, policymakers usually mean a group of subjects, such as science, technology, engineering, and math (or STEM).
“I’m not knocking the STEM disciplines,” Robinson says, because “they can be every bit as creative as music or art or dance.” But while they may be necessary, they’re not sufficient — they provide a partial education at best. “For a community and economy to flourish, we need a multiplicity of talents of every sort,” Robinson says.
How would Robinson start the process of transforming education? Rather than building on the current industrial model — or “specifying more and more national standards” — Robinson would ask educators and policymakers to recognize that education is a personal process. “Personalizing to me is not a slogan,” Robinson says. “It’s the axiomatic basis on which all good education has always worked. You know, it’s the teacher who looked you in the eye and got you — the person who understood what you were about and encouraged you.”
Robinson focused on this in his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. “To be in your element, you’re doing something for which you have a natural aptitude,” Robinson says. “And this, by the way, is why I think Gallup’s work in strengths is so important, because part of the premise of the work in strengths is to discover natural aptitudes.”
In the end, a key to transforming education is to find ways to discover what kids’ natural aptitudes are, then helping them understand what excites and motivates them. Teaching is “about creating conditions for growth, Robinson says. “If you create an appetite for learning, you have a very different style of education than one based on feeding kids a dry diet of condensed information. If they have an appetite to learn, they’ll create their own opportunities.”
~from Gallup’s Strengths Insights