Articles tagged with creativity

Schools need diversity, not conformity, says Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson at NSBA's annual conference

Our schools no longer serve our children, according to creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. “Our current system is based on the conformity principal,” he said. “But human life thrives on diversity.”

Robinson was the keynote speaker at NSBA’s second general session on Sunday. He told attendees that we are inherently diverse, born with “deep talents.” However, in schools, “we’ve become preoccupied with conformity.”

Our school systems were developed in the Industrial Revolution to meet the industrial economy, he said. “Schools’ DNA has the rhythms and pulses of industrial manufacturing.”

Our school system’s industrial roots are the reason that schools are more interested in conformity than creativity. Compliance — another industrial virtue — is also prized by schools. “Kids don’t come in standard shapes and their minds don’t either. Our real resource is the creative capacity of its people. Life is not linear, it’s organic.”

Robinson grew up in Liverpool, and he talked about the rise and fall of British Empire, noting that it was once the most power nation in the world. No one could have foreseen the events – including two world wars – that lead to its demise as a superpower.

“What is true for humans is true for communities, empires, countries, and the planet. Humans live in a flow and flux. Every empire goes down.”

“Empires grow and fall on basis of creativity, motivation, and passion, just like humans,” he continued. “It happens to companies, too.”

Robinson used the example of Kodak, who invented home photography by making a camera that anyone could use. It had a hugely booming business, but invested in film, a mistake in the age of digital photography.

“They’ve gone out of business – had their lunch stolen by Instagram,” he said. “They didn’t go out of business because people stopped taking pictures.”

School boards are a pivotal role in changing from the old industrial model. “Your role in stewarding and taking care of public education could not be more important. There’s no more important role for the future of country,” he said. “The great challenge we all face now is to reframe how we do it.”

Robinson said that instead of the factory metaphor, a better metaphor to embrace is farming. “In agriculture, you don’t make plants grow, you create conditions for growth. Plants grow themselves,” he said. Farming focuses on the soil, manufacturing focuses on the yield. Standardization is about the yield and competition. Children flourish if conditions of growth are right, if they feel loved, and if teachers are empowered and encouraged to learn, then we will have conditions for growth.

“School boards have an essential role here to create the right conditions,” he said. “It’s not your job to do it for them. You create the conditions for teaching and learning to flourish. We can’t guarantee what the future will look like. We never could.”

Also at the second General Session, the grand prize-winning Magna Award districts were honored by President of Sodexo School Services Steve Dunmore. For more about the Magna Awards, go to


Kathleen Vail|April 6th, 2014|Categories: NSBA Annual Conference 2014|Tags: , , , |

How a Virtual Learning Environment Can and Should Help Learners

Jeff Borden gave a great presentation on the rationale of why and how online learning can help students and teachers. His talk was not full of the often empty rhetoric about how “digital learners” are different from the rest of us. I’ve thought and written about this on my blog ( Jeff said the learners haven’t changed–the way they and we learn has changed. I think the sooner we include everyone in the conversation about learners the better. No one benefits from creating a divide between so-called digital and non-digital learners. Another point that Jeff made was that students like technology because they like variety. We all like variety–young and old. Online learning can help address this deep need inside of all of us.

Another important way Jeff made for the case for online learning is that the technology can meet the many needs that teachers have everyday. As teachers, we want our students to write more, to think more, to create more. Online technology tools can help us achieve these goals. By using some very straight-forward tools effectively, we can get a lot of return for our investment. What really came through in Jeff’s talk was that he wasn’t just a “tech head” going off on the cool new tools. It was very clear that he uses these tools in actual classrooms. It’s great to hear from someone who has “the goods” and can help teach and inspire others.

Lindsey Pahs|October 29th, 2009|Categories: Educational Technology, 21st Century Skills, T+L|Tags: , , , , , , |

Frans Johansson and The Medici Effect

During the general session on Wednesday, Frans Johansson shared his vision of the power of diversity in innovation. If anyone has had a diverse life, Frans has–from his quick recap of his life we can see that he’s had to pull together resources/ideas from a wide range. Luckily we can all benefit from his experience. We can ask ourselves and our students in a wide variety of situations to think about the material differently. The question “How is a neuron like a hand?” becomes a tool for exploration, innovation and discovery. The draw for many teachers to the profession is the ability to be creative. We like the process. Now we can use the “Medici Effect” to help guide us in fostering creativity in our students. Combine ideas that seem disparate. Ask if the seemingly impossible is possible–let’s try it!

Lindsey Pahs|October 28th, 2009|Categories: 21st Century Skills, T+L|Tags: , , , , , |
Page 1 of 11