My post today was to be on self-actualization. However, before I was able to finish it, social media alerted me and the rest of the world that yesterday we lost a sound and thoughtful advocate in the world of creativity.
Sir Ken Robinson died. Who? You might ask. And, I would reply, you know – Sir Ken Robinson – of TED talk fame! Robinson is famous for his 2006 TED talk on his arguable contention that schools kill creativity. If you’ve never watched it, you should. Yes, you definitely should!
At the time, my family was young, with my oldest child in 6th grade. What are you in sixth grade? Most children are 12 years old, I would think. This same child, now a man, is 26. Much time has passed but the tenants of Robinson’s stance on human creativity still resonate. Little did I know how much creativity, and allowing my children to create, would influence their lives and success. Looking back now, I can see how very important the freedom to create was to their development.
Robinson advocated for not placing students in boxes, allowing them to feed their creative side – whether that be in music, theater, fine art, creative writing, or performance. He was against standardized testing, uniform curriculum, and “mainstream” traditional classroom education. As an adult who advocated for many years for the gifted and talented student population of our school district, what he had to say was music to my ears!
This wasn’t because my children didn’t do well in the traditional educational setting. They did. Actually, they all did very well. My agreement with Robinson’s theories stemmed from the fact that I saw they, and other students, as well, needed more. They actually needed to create.
This is why I fought when band and other music classes were being shuttled to the side of course offerings or when my youngest needed an independent study in art as early as his freshman year in high school. It is why I supported a maker space in the school. We purchased a 3D printer when the tabletop versions just came out and saw our middle son just fly with learning to use it and create products with it. None of that was taught in a school setting. Don’t get me wrong, some of it (not all) was supported and, I’m thankful for the parts that were.
But, for me, the biggest take away from Sir Ken Robinson is to not put a student in a box. As much as learning can be individualized and geared towards the passions and strengths of that individual, the better off we all are as a society. Attempting to not use “boxes” in a traditional school setting is difficult at best. Sometimes, the boxes can be escaped, and sometimes they cannot. I’ve seen and had to support the outcomes of both. Let’s just say it’s easier when the learning that takes place outside the box is supported and recognized as valuable. When it’s not, it takes longer “re-find” the passion for learning and not care whether one is learning in the box or outside of it.
Robinson’s death comes at a time when I am reading one of his books called, The Element (2009). In it, he explains further what educators, and parents alike, should be supporting when it comes to their students. I will read it with extra zeal and thankfulness now for the voice he had for all humans who have a need to create. Sir Ken Robinson had some ideas well worth listening to. It saddens me that his voice is gone.
He will be greatly missed, not only by me but by others who saw his wisdom.
Who will take his place? I’m not sure anyone can, but I sure hope someone will.
Rest in Peace, Sir Ken Robinson.