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Changing Education Paradigms October 1, 2010

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Ken Robinson shows how children are not getting the education they want from the traditional education system that our society imposes.


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Every country on earth at the moment is reforming public education. There are two reasons for it. The first of them is economic. People are trying to work out, how do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century given that we can't anticipate what the economy will look like at the end of next week, as the recent turmoil is demonstrating. How do we do that?

The second though is cultural. Every country on earth is trying to figure out how do we educate our children so that they have a sense of cultural identity and so that we can pass on the cultural genes of our communities while being part of the process of globalisation. How do we square that circle?

The problem is, they are trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past and on the way they are alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school. When we went to school, we were kept there with a story, which was if you worked hard and did well and got a college degree, you would have a job. Our kids don't believe that and they are right not to by the way. You are better having a degree than not but it is not a guarantee any more and particularly not if the route to it marginalises most of the things that you think are important about yourself.

And people say that we have to raise standards as if it was a breakthrough. You know, like really, we should. Why would you lower them? I haven't come across an argument that persuades me of lowering them but raise them? Of course we should raise them.

The problem is that the current system of education, in my view and experience, was designed and conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. Before the middle of the 19th century, there were no systems of public education. Not really, you know, you could get educated by Jesuits if you had the money but public education, paid for by taxation, compulsory to everybody and free at

the point of delivery, that was a revolutionary idea. Many people objected to it. They said,

Courtesy of Sir Ken Robinson

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Changing Education Paradigms- October 1, 2010

- Ken Robinson
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