Saturday, January 8, 2011

Changing Education paradigms

I watched the RSAnimate version of this video ( a couple of days ago, and then wanted to see the whole thing. Ken Robison has written books about Creativity, and how and where it comes from. The idea that modern schooling teaches creativity out of our children wasn't new to me. I heard this when I was at school, and from my persepecitve Pink Floyds line about teachers just being another brick in the wall were all about how teachers and schooling locked us in to thinking in the same way, made us conform and walled up our creative thinking. 

Nowadays I see it as a parent, when my son sits at the kitchen table doing his homework. He's a natural lateral thinker, he doesn't conform well, I should take some responsibility for that I suppose, since I've always encouraged non-conformity and independent thinking (but personally I think Gaz's influence has been the biggest contributer). Some may argue that it's because he's left handed, but I'm not sure (and the debate about left- brain/ right-brain is far too big to get into here). But anyway, back to Cas at the kitchen table, he's got his maths homework in front of him, and he works out the answer, usually in his head (that definitely doesn't come from me) and then writes his answer down. More often than not, he's asked to "show his working out" - this is the part when the agony ensues. Cas often jokes about drawing a picture of his brain, since that's how he worked out the answer. But the real problem comes, because he has to show that he worked the answer out in the "right" way. Like there's only one way to solve a problem. This is the part that Cassius finds hard, silly in fact, since the "right" way is often not the way he would do it. His solutions and ways of working out, more often than not are novel, and faster (because, inherently he wants to get his homework finished quickly so he can get back to his Lego) than the solutions he has been taught to use at school. He finds it immensely frustrating to have to write out a solution/ way of working the problem out that is not the most efficient and not the way he did it. And I know that this problem will only get worse the older he gets, and the further he gets through education. I imagine that my son is going to drive the majority of his high school teachers mad, because he's non-conformist, an excellent lateral thinker, very quick-witted and worst of all, he's gobby. 

The point I'm not trying to make here, is that I think my son is special or amazing (although I do), the point I'm making is that I think most children are like Cassius. I'm sure that there are many parents who see their children in this same situation on a daily basis. And I think that as parents we shouldn't stand for it. Why should we allow our children to be educated to think that there is only one solution to every problem? That this solution must be worked out in the same way by everyone? And that if you think differently, then at best you're wrong, and at worst you're weird? 

I agree with Ken Robinson, we don't need to reform education, we need to transform it! 

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