Following my most recent post, I have spent much of the day researching the ideas and thoughts of Sir Ken Robinson, the voice behind the RSA video I posted before. Here is the entire lecture, if you are interested in hearing it:
I have to say that Sir Ken Robinson makes a lot of good points, points that everyone should be taking in to consideration. Why are we forcing kids to sit through book learning and lectures when they could be experiencing something like this:
Imagine what a child proficient in divergent thinking would do with this! According to Sir Ken Robinson, most children are proficient in divergent thinking, so I could only imagine, if children were taught to understand this and other areas of their lives in this way, what the implications would be. How many children would go on to become inventors or creators simply because they have a better understanding of engineering or physics or anything else simply because they didn’t have to sit there bored to tears listening to a teacher lecture about something that was so far beyond their grasp?
This reminded me of a lesson that I taught the children in my own class. We were learning about butterflies, and I had strategically planned to do the lesson at a time when there were caterpillars everywhere outside. I could have just told them that caterpillars make a cocoon and turn into a butterfly and let it stay at that. They could have caught some caterpillars and showed them to their parents and it would have been a swell time. But we caught several caterpillars as a class and kept them in containers. We fed them leaves and watched them eat the leaves. We watched them make cocoons. And we even watched one of our caterpillars emerge from its cocoon as a big butterfly.
I still remember that day very clearly, and how excited the children were that the caterpillar had actually turned into a butterfly just like their teacher said it would. One girl’s mom told me that she didn’t stop talking about it for a couple of months. Now, granted, they aren’t going to learn any huge engineering lessons or anything like that from this lesson. But it made the experience of learning about butterflies meaningful and fun and memorable. If I had just sat there and lectured about butterflies they wouldn’t have remembered a word of it, and we probably wouldn’t have had a good day either, because three year olds don’t really have the patience to sit through that.
Another point that Sir Ken Robinson makes that I feel is important is that we are educating the passion out of children. Some children have things that they are passionate about: music, dance, art, etc. Instead of doing everything that we can to foster these passions and talents and letting the children practice and develop those passions, we are teaching them that it isn’t right to have these passions and that they should be like everyone else. It is a travesty and a huge disrespect to these children. My daughter loves to dance and make music and sing, and I am trying to do everything that I can to put her into an elementary school that will foster these passions and talents rather than stifling them because I believe that she will do much better in life if she has a chance to develop those passions that she has. I still believe that reading, writing, science, history, and math are very important as they help us to be successful in this life, but they are not the most important aspects of life.