2010 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo & Conference
Monday Keynote - Sir Ken Robinson

Author of The Element- How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything www.theelementbook.com

Las Vegas - no natural reason for it to be there - power of imagination

Power of Imagination - takes us into the future BUT we take it for granted and suppress it
  • Education is where imagination is suppressed the most.

Most people don't know their talents or use them.
  • If they love what they do, they will be doing it and putting the time into it. It will cause fulfillment and achievement.
  • In your element - doing what you're made for and relaxed/comfortable

30% average dropout rate, 50% in some lower income communities, 80% in Native American communities

System of education is out of alignment
  • We need to transform to a different way of thinking
  • Need to raise standards - need to know what standards to raise

Massive disconnect - educational policies set by government due to economy yet businesses saying students don't have the appropriate skills

Education has become encrusted with distractions, supplemental interests (building codes, testing industry, etc.). In the middle are the students who are trying to learn and teachers who are trying to teach them. We need to not put in anything else.

Current system of education was designed in 1900s for industrial age and manufacturing.

Transformation is possible if we question the obvious. We are living in times of revolution. We need to think differently about talent, ourselves, and change our minds about education.

Our students take technology for granted. Technology is not technology if it happened before you were born. Example - Why wear a wristwatch? Time is everywhere - on cell, computer, etc. Daughter never wears one nor do most people under 25. What will our grandkids take for granted?

We are still trying to deal with industrial revolution in education. Another issue is population growth. Population has doubled from 1970s to 2000 up to over 6 billion world wide. Factors are combining into a world we can't predict.

We have never had such growth of humanity on this planet. In the beginning of the 19th century Britain dominated and by the turn of the century it was not the world power it once was because it didn't keep up with changes. When we stop changing with time, we loose power and significance. It depends on education and the people coming through feeling energized and enabled. So what do we do?

Asian cultures are drawn to context, group, and community. Western cultures are drawn to subject - we are individualistic.

Things we (policy makers) take for granted
  • Going to school is all about going to college - some people just want to go to work..We need to be diverse. It shouldn't be that smart kids go to college, and vocational courses are for the not as smart. Example - Gentleman he met told about wanting to be a fireman and teacher ridiculing him saying "You are throwing your life away." He saved the teacher's life after the teacher was in a car wreck.
  • We educate kids by age level - very linear and standardized

We go to restaurants, listen to music, etc. because they are different - we cherish diversity. In education we want standardization like the fast food restaurants. Kids are different. Different things turn them on yet we treat them as if they are the same. We need to improve the experience of every child in the system.

If you are in your element, you're doing something that is within your natural capacity/aptitude.

Being good at something isn't a good enough reason to do it. You need to love doing it.

We need to move from an industrial metaphor to an agricultural metaphor. Good gardeners know what the best conditions are for growing.

Education is about giving people the opportunity to develop giving them the chance to grow and conditions that foster it. School needs a broader curriculum. Standardized test only have a role; they can't become the culture.

Technologies available to us give us the tools to individualize, but the heart of education is the teachers.

Life is organic. What we become depends on how we invest in our own talent. 'we need to see what is important to who kids are and invest in them and encourage them to pursue those things that are important to them.