Ira Israel draws inspiration from Ken Robinson’s TED Talk to look at ways to shift the educational paradigm.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
In his utterly brilliant TEDTalk, Sir Ken Robinson states that, “Children are not afraid to be wrong. If you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original. And by the time most children have become adults they have become frightened of being wrong.”
Face it, fellow former child, in one way or another, much of your mental life is now devoted to trying to look good and avoiding looking bad. Isn’t that what many of your concerns ultimately resolve to? And in the background of your quest to be accepted and appreciated — maybe even loved and respected — your quest to be “good-enough” according to someone else’s standards — do you not have a blunted soundtrack of what-ifs and woulda-coulda-shouldas and doubts sloshing around the old noggin?
We rightfully laud iconoclastic geniuses like Ani DiFranco and Steve Jobs who live by their own credos, but few people have what it takes to cut their own paths, follow the road less traveled. Most people require large safety nets before daring to try something completely foreign. But maybe it isn’t possible to soar to new heights unless we’re willing to plumb the depths of our missteps?
Personally, I’ve become fond of Dale Halaways’ wonderful adage, “You’re either winning; or you’re learning.”
The only way to truly fail is to vote yourself off the island, choose not to engage, rebel to the point of self-destruction, or be passive and wait for life to happen to you while you’re busy making plans.
Our educational system evolved to produce workers; it was not devised to facilitate genius or what we consider to be “outside the box” thinking. Our educational systemis the box. It developed to facilitate the transition from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy. But has it yet sufficiently adapted for the diversity of the Information Age or for the new world economy? If so, then why are three out of ten students so uninspired that they drop out?
When was the last time you met a young person who said, “I cannot wait to do my homework!” or “I cannot wait to go to school tomorrow!” or “I cannot wait to hear what the teacher has to say tomorrow!” Learning is such a privilege and yet so many students feel that it is a burden.
We need to make young people fall in love with their own personal growth and development. We need to teach them how to thrive creatively. We need to teach them to be proactive about their aspirations and dreams. We need to teach them how to try to make every situation win-win instead of win-lose, that life is not a winner-take-all, zero-sum game. We need to teach them to show up authentically without fear of punishment or humiliation or failure. And we need to inspire them to want to make the world a better place, that we’re all in this together.
It’s obviously time to shift our educational paradigm and it is extremely inspirational to have such forward thinkers such as Sir Ken Robinson leading the way.
Photo: cmichel67 / flickr