Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to Sir Ken Robinson (now on Twitter) speak in person for the first time. Like many people I’ve watched him on YouTube videos, so this BETT2015 talk was a nice opportunity. And he was very impressive in person: affable, disarming, offering nicely turned phrases, connecting with the audience, full of praise for teachers and learners.
Like many others I appreciated his calls for nurturing creativity, for instructor autonomy, for building up an innovative population to address planetary ecological problems. These messages resonate with me, not least from my pedagogical practice and devotion to digital storytelling.
And yet as the talk went on two problems occurred to me. Over time they seemed more like blind spots in Sir Ken’s presentation. I can’t recall him addressing* either, and so I think they are worth considering.
1. No politics?
Asked what we should do to improve education, Robinson advised us to transform our individual practices. He cited Gandhi (maybe) about our being the change we want to see in the world. He repeated this advice several times.
Interestingly, Sir Ken did not recommend any social or political activity. He did not ask us to get involved with a national political party**, or to lobby a state or local government (keep in mind he lives in LA, which just had a spectacular K-12 educational technology fiasco). He didn’t ask us to influence our professional membership organizations, like goading the MLA to stop supporting the overproduction of PhDs, or working with our unions, should you have access to one. He didn’t call us to organize by social media, or even to peer up for mutual assistance. This speech left us with a tend-your-own-garden call to action, quietism instead of collaboration. Continue reading