Written by Paul Needham, TE Instructional Coach
After watching this animation accompanying a speech by Sir Ken Robinson, I am struck by several thoughts.
- I needed to watch this video again in order to allow the drawings to add to the message, rather than distract me from it. I would encourage anyone who remembers 2-3 drawings more readily than 2-3 arguments of the speech to re-watch the video as I had to. What do you remember most?
- My biggest take away from this talk was the idea that the world has changed dramatically and that the educational system has not changed much in over 200 years. What worked a few generations ago, even when 20-something year-olds were in school, is no longer a best practice. This resonated with me because it was difficult for me to let go of the ways I was taught when I became a teacher. If I were to give you all a piece of advice, it would be to enter the 2012 Teaching Excellence Induction with an open mind. I truly believe that what you will be trained to do over the coming weeks and months represents the cutting edge in educating students to succeed in low-income areas and in today’s social and economic climate. What do your students most need for you to get at Induction?
- All of our students bring tremendous value to our classrooms. Simply because the current structure of the educational system values academic intelligence does not mean that only a sub-set of our students who easily excel in this area are worth our time or are worthy of success in school. It is our charge as dedicated educators to discover, celebrate, and leverage the unique strengths in all of our children to allow them to become their best selves. While this includes academic success and achievement, it goes so much further. What about this idea may be challenging for you, given your own educational background?
- My other thought upon digesting this talk is the charge to make aesthetic experiences for our students. The notion of creating experiences in which “all senses are operating at their peak” is one that is incredibly challenging but one that fills me with hope as well. Sir Ken Robinson evokes this idea when discussing the arts specifically, but it is even more powerful when considering it as a challenge for every lesson our students experience. If the arts capture our students’ interest so well because they evoke their senses in such a strong way, how can we create lessons in math, Spanish, writing, or world history that do the same things? What three adjectives would you like your students to use in describing your classroom lessons?
- The last thought that I will leave you with is a word of caution and relates to Sir Ken’s thoughts on ADHD. Certainly there are students who are improperly medicated because they find it difficult to focus on boring school lectures that do not attempt to engage them. A teacher would be wise to consider many means of engaging students and helping them focus prior to believing that they may be afflicted with this condition. However, contrary to the brief portion of this video that addresses it, ADD and ADHD are very real conditions that do not limit a child’s potential and still change how they best intake information and interact with peers and teachers. I would not want a new teacher to assume that a child who has been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD is lazy or faking it any more than I would want a student to be improperly medicated when it is not necessary. What other “labels” can adversely affect a child’s educational experience?
I think what Sir Ken’s talk does best is illuminate the fact that the education system is trying to solve new problems with tools that are two centuries old. The best schools, administrators, and teachers create tools that allow their students to have as many choices open to them as possible. The educators that are being left behind are the ones who bemoan the fact that their students are not conforming to the methods that “worked for me when I was a kid.”
As a new teacher who may be joining us for Summer Induction, or as a veteran teacher who follows our blog – what were your takeaways and thoughts on this excellent talk and animation? Please feel free to answer any of my own italicized questions or pose your own for people to respond to.