Notes from An Alien

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All About Kids And Creativity…

Here are two videos of Sir Ken Robinson, author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies. They’re from 2007 and 2010 and are about what’s wrong with educational systems:

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10 responses to “All About Kids And Creativity…

  1. Simone Benedict March 26, 2011 at 1:11 am

    Thank you for sharing these, Alexander! I hope they’re all listening to this guy. He mentions a point in the first video I’d like to comment on.

    In my area, the schools state their students are 20%-30% disabled. These are not my figures but those at the state education’s website. I suspect the big federal funding received for “disabled” kids is a motivator. (I’m not saying I’m right. I’m just sayin…)

    My kids are the only kids I personally know who are not on medications. It all just blows me away. I sit and talk to these “disabled” kids and they’re quite brillant. I ask them what medications they’re on (some as young as 5) and they start rattling them off, “I take this before bedtime so I can sleep, I take this in the am to wake up and I take this to calm me down.” While I don’t argue the fact that there are people who require medications, it should be rare not common.

    It’s outrageous and it’s not often I say “throw the baby out with the bathwater.” I’m bearing in mind that Einstein’s mother was told to take him home because he coulld not learn. In modern times, the schools are saying that about 20%-30% of the kids! This is the state of education in our country so I do say throw it all out and start all over.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 26, 2011 at 3:53 am

      Ya know, Simone, I love studying, always have, but I’ve never liked school…

      And, I’m sure over-medication will only get worse before it goes away :-(

      What a sad, sick World we live in………………….


      • Simone Benedict March 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm

        Yep. I guess I got lucky. When I was a kid they just stuck me out in the hallway. Looking back my only “disorder” was I was questioning authority. They always confused that with challenging authority. In today’s world, I guess that would have gotten me an oppositional defiant disorder? Whew. Glad I just got the hallway. I dreamed up lots of stuff out there, lol.


        • Alexander M Zoltai March 26, 2011 at 3:15 pm

          Ah, the hallway….

          Reminds me of one incident that really got to me. It happened just before I committed myself to hating school:

          We had an in-class written essay assignment and I was looking out the window at the trees, thinking about what I would write.

          The teacher told me that if I couldn’t pay attention to the assignment I could come up and sit at the student’s desk up front–the dreaded next-to-her seat…

          I went to the desk and proceeded to write a critique of her actions as a supposed educator………………………….


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  3. Once March 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

    It is perhaps one of the more sad spectacles in the general run of life and what it is that people talk about over the dinner table centers on what is generally wrong with just about every aspect of interactions with institutions, conventions, “rules,” “the rule of law,” “schools” et cetera, in fact, every collective enterprise from the family on down (or up, as the case may be) and they do so with what might almost be called righteous impunity. It would be difficult to find an individual who is unaware that something is terribly “wrong” with our institutions and since each of us we knows this from personal experience and it is, therefore, as Richardson has stated entirely possible that just about anyone has an opinion, and a strong one at that, on the subject of education.

    The subject of the merits (or lack thereof) of an education through the auspices of schools both public and private is largely a matter of opinion based on one’s own peculiar experience. My own education I enjoyed immensely, for the most part, while I recognize that others whom I have known never enjoyed a minute of their experience in schools. I never understood this, but, at the same time, the overwhelming majority of conversations I have heard over the years must have some basis in fact and I have respected opinions on that basis. I have found that whether positive or negative, it is as easy to damn the system, accordingly, as it is to praise it. I will attempt neither here in this comment.

    What I will share, however, is a fact (or so I was led to believe it was a fact) that, as it turned out was in my estimation the most important single item of information I ever came across in all twelve years of my public school education. In my senior year of high school within a geography class, for whatever the reasons, the subject of being “unique” or wishing to be “unique” came up amongst my fellow students in that class, and after some half a period of discussion about the goal of “being oneself” or “being unique” or “trying to live outside the box” the hope to avoid becoming a mere “sheep” in the herd, my teacher stopped the discussion, drew a line on the blackboard from one end of the board to the other, and then turning to us said, “Are you aware that at this moment, in 1962, as we are discussing this subject, two-thirds of all humanity that has ever lived in the last 40,000 years of recorded history are living with you right now?” Naturally, no one got the point of his comment; I, on the other hand, almost fell off my chair!

    The year 1962 was represented on the board with a dot at the far right of the board as we faced it. At that time, there were an estimated 2,000,000,000 human beings living on the planet. Two billion people were living with me on that day while the whole of the other billion souls who had ever lived and left evidence that they had lived occupied the whole of 40,000 years previous to my own life, graphically, the whole of the blackboard from left to right.

    I cannot claim to have been all that astute or precocious as a 16-year-old, but it did occur to me to ask if this didn’t mean that quite soon, the population would double or treble, and that whatever our institutions and our ideas about how a nation should be run, how it should grow, how it must survive would preclude any idea of being all that “unique” and in fact, it would mean that we would have to devise a system that could cope with such numbers of souls who were yet to be born but whom I would meet in the remainder of my life since the present systems of that time worked on notions of populations as we knew them then, and not as they were about to unfold in the coming population explosion. The teacher replied in the affirmative, and from that day to this, it was clear to me that whatever the complaints or praises concerning our democracy, our government, our schools, hospitals, churches, or whatever holds our society together both were doomed to failure simply because these same institutions cannot sustain numbers of human beings at a collective rate and size never before known to mankind but based only on what had worked for a minority of beings spread out over thousands of years on a planet that at that time had not even been fully explored. After all, the shoes I wore in grade six could not possibly have been any use to me as a full-grown man; by definition, then, it would have been ridiculous to expect that even if I took care of those shoes assiduously, I would still be obliged to buy new shoes or steal them that were several sizes larger and would accommodate the obvious growth of my feet.

    Richardson is quite correct; we have no idea what we’re in for! What has passed, however, is by default obviously inadequate whether or not any one or any group is or is not responsible for whatever it is we are doing in not only education, but in all other socio-economic institutions and interactions. Blame, then, is irrelevant; teachers, students, parents, administrations, mentors, extra-curricular workers, are all woefully inadequate to a task that even now has more to do with sheer weight in numbers than in whatever petty complaints there may be concerning individuals within the “system” or, conversely, the whatever supposed glories there may be by accident or otherwise. We must, however, recognize, as Richardson said, notwithstanding anyone’s claim to success or beef against the odds within the “system” that the youth of today are possessed of an unprecedented creativity which has been almost handed to them on a silver platter if for no other reason than the advances in technology, on the one hand, and, on the other, the sheer volume of a population in an ever more crowded world unimaginable even in the year I graduated from high school. Such reasoning I rarely, if ever hear.

    When the American Revolution began, there were but 10,000 citizens living in New York City and 40,000 in Philadelphia; When Columbus “discovered” America, there were only 7,000,000 Spaniards and Portuguese living on the Iberian Peninsula with only 3,000,000 living in England, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland. Systems of governance whether religious or secular were barely able to cope and often failed albeit managed for almost 2,000 years after Christ to remain in existence. The Western Nations such as Portugal, Spain, France, and England were all formed as discrete kingdoms right about the time of Columbus’ voyage. Everything, then, even of nation building, nevermind sundry institutions and conventional behaviour. Even the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution foretold that in 200 years, there would have to be devised a new Constitution to cope with anticipated growth in America. Educational systems were devised as we know them today only about 100 years ago and we are way past due; even in the Province of Quebec where I live, education was made mandatory through grade twelve only in 1960 up from the previous legal requirement of only grade three before that year.

    Yes, there is “something rotten in the state of Denmark,” but what, in point of fact, did we expect with such expanded numbers of populations and what greater needs and requirements to keep the peace and secure economies within such unprecedented increases in the world’s populations? If we turn to what is right, meet and seemly in our approach to any of the institutions in our society and build on this, it would preclude all the wasted passion involved in mere negative criticism. Not all students, teachers, and administrators are in fact but bricks in the wall.


    • Alexander M Zoltai March 30, 2011 at 3:05 pm


      You call me up on the facts and show me that my parochial view, hemmed-in by my rarely fulfilled desire to interact with an inspiring teacher, has made an anthem of a song that, though musically fantastic, is lopsided in its focus on blame.

      Interesting that a piece of music can be fully mature in its purely musical aspects and be flatly adolescent in it lyrics………

      Perhaps, I’m the brick in the wall :-)


  4. Pingback: An educational revolution | Multum in Parvo

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