A tribute by Pickbrain to Sir Ken Robinson, who championed the cause that schools should foster creativity and not become testing factories mass producing minds that are lost on imagination.
My first introduction to Sir Ken Robinson was a TED talk of his that was forwarded to me by a professor of mine. He spoke of how schools kill creativity. It is perhaps one of the most watched TEDs of all time. The talk made me think. The talk made me talk to people about what they think. It amazed me as to how most teachers and institution builders agreed with him on his views. His talks, over time, were my companion over my morning walks.
His passing, recently, came as shock to many. It again made me think. Why would a man who most of us have never seen or met in life impact us in a manner that the news of his passing would leave us in grief?
Here are four things to learn from him and apply
1. Should we rethink and reimagine our schools?
India has just unveiled its New Education Policy. To me, that brings with it the opportunity to blend (as the buzzword suggests) the creative schools that Sir Ken advocated and the new structure of learning we are considering. There is no better time than now. The future needs thinkers and creators, not those who recount facts with precision.
2. Understanding the importance of art in education
Sir Ken dreamt and always spoke passionately about this. If we look at great thinkers who outline the needs of the modern world, we find them commonly address the need for decision-making, risk-taking and inventiveness. All these come from the pursuit of art. The world became a better place with far more inventions every time an era of art flourished. It is time we took this thinker’s words seriously and germinated an artistic mindset that can help script a new world order.
3. The vision to go for a blend
Sir Ken was never against the basic skills needed for employment, say numeracy and so on. All he pleaded, at times passionately, at times poetically, was to blend it with a dash of art and creativity in our curriculum. He looked at art as an inherent definition of humankind. We normally look at new to replace the old, but he was a master who told us how to blend in the new without disrupting the old.
4. Clarity is power
He was arguably one of the most simple, eloquent and popular thought igniters of the modern world. He always left you thinking after you heard him. What was amazing about his talks was his ability to bring clarity to your mind. He delivered it with simplicity and that made his thoughts so easy to consume. To borrow from Yuval Harari, “In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power”. Sir Ken was a live example of that.
He was a teacher with simple lessons who reminded the world “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”. Truly profound. He shall be missed dearly, by you, me and many like us, who never knew him in person. His life was a silent revolution in education that will live, long after.
This article originally appeared in the TeacherTribe Magazine September 2020 edition.