In listening to Sir Ken Robinson‘s TEDTalk on how our current education system works in the United States and it’s limiting factors, I could not help but feel extremely motivated. Robinson’s mixture of humor and shear logic in explaining the way in which human beings operate makes it easy to feel compelled to go make changes in the world. It was as if Robinson took all of my (and I’m assuming many other people’s) thoughts on education, sifted through them, organized them, and then put them into a cohesive and well-thought out argument.
However, in the same breath, I also could not help but feel very overwhelmed and almost helpless at the same time. While the points he made were valid and as noted, logical, they also seemed far-fetched and unrealistic. In a way, it feels a bit too little too late.
When I think about our current education system, I am also pressed to think about how our education system mirrors many aspects of our daily lives. While I could go on and on about this, I will use the workplace as an example here. For instance, much like standardized testing, when it comes to the workplace, you must also complete certain tasks in order to move forward with the company. Students and employees are motivated by grade increases and raises or bonuses. In addition, there is an established hierarchy within the workplace that is also evident in the education systems.
Keeping this in mind, the trouble I have with what Sir Ken Robinson proposes is not the idea itself, but more so the realistic-ness of it. If we are to reform schools, does this mean a complete reformation to other institutions, such as the workplace? And if so, how?
It is clear that change is needed, even if it is just one state at a time like Robinson explains. I also believe that it is this change that could be crucial to the overall success of our nation and the future lives of our children. By removing the pressure to pass standardized tests and creating an environment where students feel inspired, as opposed to forced, to learn, we can create that change.
However, while this is easy to envision and even easier to say, it is a tall task to actually accomplish. Beyond the fact that it is a timely and meticulous operation, it is my honest belief that it is hard to avoid the education “death valley” that Robinson speaks of because we are already there.