I wanted to share this video with you. Very interesting views. Do you think this is right? If so, could this be alleviated by bringing new technologies into the classroom?

Tags: TED, education, inspirational, speech

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I am on dial-up and was unable to wait the long time for the video to come in. What did come in was truly boring and lacked creativity. Just another talking head.

If we are to determine if the "current educational system" effects creativity, we need to not only identify what is the "current educational system", and then look at the graduates and determine if they are noticeably lacking in creativity. The guy in the video sounded like a Brit, so it is unlikely that he would have much, if any knowledge of the "current educational system" in rural Virginia.

If it is true, the schooling kills creativity (if so, where did all these creative adults making all these creative applications of technology come from?) then I would have to say that just adding technology would improve creativity only as much as giving each kid in the class a brand spanking new wooden ruler with the English system on one side and the metric on the other. If you have ever watched a child "create", you may have noticed that typically, they work with whatever materials are at hand. Creativity is not affected by the available materials. Think about the buy who wants to escape from prison and carefully makes a tool out of lunchroom tableware,

If you browse around the Internet, you will see that there are many sites that reflect the creativity of their creators, and others that are so boring you want to tear-up. Both the creative sites and the boring sites were created, for the most part, by the same generation attending the same "school system". It is not the school system that affects creativity, as much as having a creative teacher in the classroom. The guy who made the video did not, at least in the first few minutes, show much of a spark of creativity himself. Maybe not the best person to make such a point!
This is a great talk, one of my favourites "Fred sent this" has been a catchphrase around my house, since I first watched this video.

I do think that test-based education can kill creativity and I do think tech can go a long way to helping keep it alive. While "teaching to the test" and downplaying the arts as fundamental to education can both push students away from creative learning, technology can help bring it back.

From what I've seen and hope to some implement, using the elements in tech that engage students (video games for example) is a great way to both foster creativity while giving students the skills to score high on tests. The work of Tim Ryland (http://www.timrylands.com/) and his use of Myst to boost students' literacy scores while getting them to tap into their creative side through creative writing is a great example.

Thanks for sharing the video. It's good to watch it again.

I tend to agree with you that the problem of creativity is in the classroom, and varies from room to room, teacher to teacher. Educational philosophies such as those reflected by NCLB seem to want to put all children in the same box and insist that each and every one run exactly the same maze. There is no way, for example, that research is going to find THE reading method that works for all children. Children are far to diverse to all respond in the same way to the same method. If I point to a group of children who have failed to learn to read by the phonics method, and someone says the only reason is that they were not taught phonics "right", I want to punch someone in the nose!

The creativity that is needed in the classroom is not in fancier one-size-fits-all activities, but is in expanding the learning to greater depth and breadth than can be measured on any bubble assessment. Let Johnny study the architecture of Egypt, Mary, study the religion, Karen study the wardrobe, and Leroy study the government, then bring them together to share among all.

Suppose a class is to learn about the Revolutionary War. Is it appropriate to give the students a list of the facts which will be tested and tell them to memorize them? Or is it better to immerse the class in a similation of the time of the Revolutionary War so that the children understand the real goals of the revolution, which did not start out as a desire for independence. Using a simulation (a holodeck anyone, or a video game in a realistic historic setting anyone) so that the child can interact with the real people of the times, not just the folks who made it into the history books would be far better.

But, we need to allow for the students who may learn of the Native POV and find fault with how first the British then the Americans abused those people and denied them even the homes and lands they had habited for generations, just so that the newcomers could try a new way of life and new form of government. If we are teaching the glories of a given war, we need to make room for the student who is aghast at the whole concept of any war. Are we really ready for truly creative students in our classrooms? Or is it just that we want a few kids to color the red circle with a green crayon and not because of color blindness?

I agree, Anne, that much of the creativity in the classroom will come from the teacher who recognizes that each student learns differently and will get engaged with different elements of a subject (Johnny studying Egyptian architecture and Mary the religion, etc.)

It's funny you bring up the Revolutionary War and simulations. There's actually a good one called "Revolution" created by the Education Arcade. It's a video game where students take on the roles of ordinary people in a Colonial town right before the war begins. Students can take to each other or npcs to learn more about the causes and arguments for and against the war. You can read more about it here: http://www.educationarcade.org/revolution . We don't study the Revolutionary War up here in Canada, but I'd love to have something like this about the historical events in our country.
I think we are all correct in that better instruction means more options and more freedom and collaboration. From the Ken R. video, however, I think what can be very urgently understood, is that "education" in general is lacking those out of the box, collaborative, demonstrations of understanding. Time and high stakes accountability has pushed teaching to an unrealistic time constraint. Teaching, in most classes that I have seen, is limited to a small number of creative opportunities for students. Classes get so very excited for their "______ Day" and they work all year for a few of these flexible activities. Anne, do get a better connection an follow Ken R out through his video. One of Mr. Robinson's points is that from a very young age, we teach kids out of their creativity. Think about it. Visual expression (drawing, painting, collage) were our favorite hobbies as young children. When was the last time you created a painting of anything? Likely not in the last 98% of your life. For me, however, having a strong artistic talent to draw very accurately anything I can see, have always been praised for my abilities, while everyone around me was not. It was obvious very early that I was creative and expected to integrate that into my work while my peers were not. If my peers were praised for different creative strengths and offered opportunities throughout their schooling to find others, they likely would retain a better appreciation for their own capabilities.

My last thought speaks to the creative endeavors in our world. Websites, creative 2.0 projects are all incredible, but likely not work from a spectacular percentage of the people of this country/world. I really believe that without the inquiry, the flexibility, and creative promotion in early education to high school, we do indeed create little bubble-in machines who think creativity is an exercise for spare time and not any beneficial element that might help them later on. Let me tell you, the most common remark from someone who hears that I draw and paint is, "oh, I wish I could draw. I can't even draw a stick figure!" How sad. If they only gave enough attention to our art history to realize that a staggering number of great artists of this world "coudn't draw either." And so while there are fantastic creative examples in our world, there can and should be even more.

Alas and alack, I have no choice of a connection. I liife out in the boonies and the phone company yawns and says ten years until they get high speed lines out here - same as they said ten years ago.

Actually, while I don't do any painting on paper, I do a lot of graphic work on the computer to illustrate the stories I write for children. I have not yet found anyone willing to do the art for me since it is a volunteer situation and there is no money in it. I do have a young artist fiiend (former student) who is going to decorate an abacus with fake jewels so we can photograph it and use it in the story "The Beautiful Jeweled Abacus" which I wrote two months ago and have been waiting to illustrate it. I need someone with young and not-shakey hands to handle the jewels on the beads and the frames.

I agree that children should have more time to draw, paint, and create in their schoolday. When I taught a fourth grade summer school late in my career, I had the kids (who were learning Virginia history and geograph) create their own maps from the standard highway maps. The first day of the mapwork, I was out sick, and many of them did a sloppy job of outlining the state. The next day, when they were to add the mountains, some realized they hadn't done their best, and asked for more paper to start over. Each day of the week they added more to their maps, and it was an excellent way for them to remember the regions and locations in the state.

During the years when I was a computer teacher in a primary (K-2) school, I had the kids using paint to create pictures since we didn't have any decent chioldren's software. I took photos of the kids and had them edit the pictures in a free software similar to photoshop, and they had fun making various pictures out of their own photos.

Back when I was a high school special ed teacher, I used a reading/vocabulary program in which the kids had to illustrate the words they were learning. It required a decent degree of creativity, especially when they had to illustrate generic and sight words that don't lend themselves well to being illustrated.

I did a lot of other creative stuff. I am aware that the heavy hand of test-prep has limited the ability of the teacher to use creative projects istead of droning facts, but, I suspect if I was still in the classroom that creative activities would come to mind.

My sister, who was teaching American History a few years ago, worked with me on a project for her kids. She usually had them do a Black History project - look up someone and write up a report. She added to the assignment that the students had to look at my Personalized History Stories, and thn create a story about a single event in the life of the person they studied. Four of the completed stories were good enough to be added to my website http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/books/MtCarmel.html ... Writing the stories required the students to get more deeply into the lives of the people they were studying and the times they lived in.

I could talk more about other things I did over my career, but these are enough of a start to provide some ideas. I can see where it is more challenging to include creativity in todays test-oriented classroom, but it is only more of a challenge - it is not an impossibility.

Thank you for your response. We will have to rush you out a faster connection, but you certainly don't need anyone helping you to understand the creative needs of kids. No, it isn't an impossibility, but I think that most of the choir here at Classroom 2.0 would be the exception.

Thanks for the good words! Anything you can do to put a torch under Verizon would be helpful!

I agree that teachers who participate here are likely to be very creative teachers, but, from my experience, I will suggest that there are a lot of creative teachers who are not yet online either because of limited resources in their school or in their community. I am thinking of the many creative teachers I met during my teaching career, as well as those who I am in touch with in my retirement.

My career was impacted by administrators who stiffled the creativity of teachers. They said nice words to creative teachers, then overlooked those teacherss in providing resources and opportunities. Administrators who insist on a "quiet school" and object to students making merry noises while they are learning do more to stifle creativity than teachers do.

Perhaps what would help would be to designate awards (with cash attached) to reward and encourage creativity in teachers. Perhaps that could start with the "choir" in here!

I love what Ken Robinson has to say; I believe it wholeheartedly. I think that many of our age and older have achieved DESPITE our educational systems and in this day and age (see Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind and Free Agent Nation) it's even more important to step away from the rote method of learning in rows and with utter quiet as the "teacher/expert" drones at the front of the room -- or even worse, hands out fill-in-the-blank worksheets! Or even worse than that, assigns projects (with STRICT guidelines to which students MUST adhere) that have no meaning or relevance in the students' current or future lives! You've got to be kidding me! Tech projects can be just as bad at times if we don't make the learning relevant to something other than test-prep hooey!

That's the old way of education and I'd hope that someone working in CR2.0 would not throw the baby out with the bath water (go to something new for new-ness sake), but would most certainly not defend an archaic 1892 way to educate students. wow.

Incidentally, Sir Ken Robinson has just this week launched his website. I hope you enjoy it too!

You are so right. It those who develop the technology applications are the same ones who developed the worksheets, there will be absolutely no improvement.

Thanks for the link to the Revolution. I like that it is set in Williamsburg, and will share the link with the historians at the Library of Virginia and let them find all the historical boo-boos. I'm sure there are some my astute colleagues in Virginia will ferret out!

I have been reading about an interesting border dweller, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk who went the whole recommended route, got an education, and tried to put the negotiations between the two governments and the Indians on the same footing. As you can guess, both the Brits and the US rejected his intent to unite the Indians under a nation that would sit between Canada and the US creating a buffer. The book is by Alan Taylor, called, A Divided Ground. It's a pretty easy read, that your students may enjoy, if you are in the Eastern Canada where the action took place. It is quite interesting to compare the "foreign policy" of both Britain and the US towards the Indians and consider how the US Foreign Policy is still used in the same ways today.

Some years back I was the tech teacher at a primary (K-2) school and we got a new lab in mid-year. Unfortunately, the admins forgot the software and didn't even budget for any. I had the office suite and Internet access, and that was it. The old lab had been MAC's with a nice suite of sorta educationalish games. A favorite with the Kindergarteners was a coloring game. So I went into paint, made a few "pictures" to color, including a single round circle, that i called a "Pizza". Coloring the pizza, adding the desired pepperoni, cheese and other squiggles and shapes, became the favorite activity. Second favorite was a simple line truck that could be colored.

It doesn't take much to provide young students with a creative outlet. Even, lettting them color a picture on the back of the boring worksheet would put a bright spot in their day! All it takes is collecting a coloring picture from the Internet, and printing it on the back of each worksheet! These are not the most creative coloring pictures, but they are a start, with the picttures of all the past presidents, and pictures of many animals. Go to: http://www.educationalsynthesis.org/printable/ColorPrint.html

You say, "You are so right. It those who develop the technology applications are the same ones who developed the worksheets, there will be absolutely no improvement."

You are right, but they are developed because schools ask for them, purchase them and use them. These companies just reflect an insatiable desire of schools to buy things that make it "easier" for teachers to follow a set curriculum. Can some teachers eke some creativity out of these materials? Perhaps.

If a teacher doesn't know how to create learning experiences that are creative, technology will have absolutely no impact. It's teacher quality, experience, and a supportive culture that allow creativity, not technology.
Yes, absolutely. I require the students in my pre-service technology class to watch this. But, on my first watch when it was first posted at TEDTalks, I cried. My daughter is about to graduate from the University of Missouri Conservatory of Music and Dance with a Bachelors degree in Ballet and Modern. And that dancer he was talking about could have been her. On top of it, she is dyslexic. She is graduating with a 4.0 and graduated high school with a 4.0 as well. She loved every second of college and her education in the conservatory, but if you ask her about high school she would say she survived and tolerated it, but there was no creativity, excitement or love.

Every single time I hear about a school district discussing eliminating the fine arts and even PE, I am beside myself. I think, are these administrators and School Board members idiots. Apparently they are and Sir Ken Robinson needs to have a talk with every single one of them.

By the way, there are tons of great TEDTalks.



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