Danielle Degelman

Tech Task #3–Ken Robinson on Human Creativity

Posted on: January 22, 2011

cc licensed flickr photo shared by TheBusinessMakers

Sir Ken Robinson, from Liverpool, England, is a very prolific author, speaker, and international advisor on education.  He gave a speech in Monterey, California (2006) concerning the loss of creativity in students.  This presentation can be viewed here.  Sir Robinson discusses how the global education setting is literally “killing” the creativity in children. He provides listeners with a quote by Pablo Picasso: “All children are born artists”. Because of the hierarchy of subjects in school systems all over the world (math and literacy on top with arts being on the bottom), students’ creativity is being shattered.  The education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability and students are starting to think that they are unintelligent–when in fact, everyone has distinct talents.  Besides distinction, children and adults learn in different ways–through audio, visual, bodily, and abstract material.  Moreover, humans make connections from one side of the brain to the other–knowledge is linked among various subject areas and topics. Sir Robinson ends with the following: “We must see creative capacities for the richness that they are, and see our children for the hope that they are. Teachers need to educate the ‘whole child‘ so that they can face the unpredictable future up ahead.”

As a student teacher and passionate musician, I agree with many points that are made by Sir Ken Robinson.  (For example, I strongly agree with the bolded statement above.) As a young child learning to read music, I have had to recognize the sounds of different notes and rests (musical aspect), as well as the rhythms that they make (mathematical aspect). My persistence with learning to play the piano has not only improved my listening skills and attention span, but has enhanced my knowledge in math.

In basic musical terms, consider the fact that quarter=1 beat, half=2 beats, and whole=4 beats. Next, add a key signature, the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, B, and throw a couple of sharps and flats in there. (If you’re a musician, you know exactly what I’m talking about.) Combine all these concepts, and you get music AND math.  Why math you ask? Because of FRACTIONS (since notes and rests are part of a measure), ADDITION (when adding each part to make up the whole), RATIO (when considering the time signature of the piece), ROOTS and POWERS (when dividing an octave into twelve equal parts), and much much more! Music is just FILLED with math! However, this is only one example of a connection that can be made between subject areas. If you have any more examples, feel free to post them!

In his presentation, Sir Robinson also advocates the education of the ‘whole child’, including the extraordinary capacities in which children possess. I strongly agree with Sir Robinson’s statement that “teachers need to rethink the principles in which they educate the class”. In other words, they need to consider the many ways in which children learn, as well as foster the creativity they acquire from birth. This does not mean turning each child into a Mozart, van Gogh, or Michelangelo. It simply means placing emphasis on the importance of all school subjects (including the arts), celebrating the distinct talents and strengths of all students, and encouraging students to use these gifts for the betterment of the future.

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"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation." -- John F. Kennedy

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