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In this “TED talk” segment by Ken Robinson, an English born professor explains why the educational system in the U.S. is remaining stagnant and unfulfilling to students needs. Robinson begins his arguments by stating, “The educational system of the United States has been accompanied by the same curriculum for the past 125 years”. Schools are unknowingly turning creative minds into memorizing machines to meet the criteria of acceptance for colleges across the nation. The educational system has labeled failure as inexcusable; in return generations of children become afraid to take a risk. Robinson implies, “Failure is essential to success, when a student looks at failure as no option, they neglect their ability to grow and think for themselves”. In many parts of the nation, high school dropouts exceed the number of graduates by a 60% margin. Robinson also states that, “the current educational system is robbing students of the creative minds we are all born with”. Research proves your brain’s imaginative and creative lobes are most active during childhood years. Replacing this creativity with standardization, results in a disengaged classroom. Standardized testing produces a false evaluation of a child’s capabilities, only basing statistics on the core subjects of math, science, and literacy.
The average high school dropout rate in the United States remains a staggering 60% in the majority population. Within minority populations as much of 80% of students will fail to obtain a high school diploma. Unaccounted for in these statistics are students who are disengaged in the classroom, and will get nothing out of it. America stands as a global leader in money spent on education, yet we are displacing this investment of would-be graduates within our economy, to even more money spent on repairing the result of a dropout generation. An estimated one trillion dollars of revenue within our economy could be salvaged if we could take the nationwide 60% and reduce this number to 30%.
Professor Robinson touches on the fact that we as humans are instinctively creative. Creativity is essential for a child to achieve something that is new, distinct, and imaginative. Education professionals are being forced to follow specific guidelines of standard testing, resulting in a conclusion of what a child is capable of conforming to. Without a broad spectrum of testing we are limiting the student to his or her adaptability rather than what they naturally excel at. Good teaching habits, such as engaging students to think for themselves and motivating them to be creative, are being jeopardized by core curriculum. Robinson refers to education as a result of learning. Educating the students on how to learn, creates any environment the student is capable of thriving in. The system is lacking a variety of studies that engage creativity. Subjects such as the arts, humanities, social sciences and even things such as dance are not being recognized as crucial to a well rounded education.
Studies show overall test scores are substantially lower in schools that lack a variety of exploratory classes. Robinson argues, “to fully understand math science and literacy, one must explore a diverse culture of learning. Without a variety of knowledge and creativity the information taught in these core classes becomes meaningless”. The subjects focused on by standard testing cannot be accurately measured as a generalization of a child’s capabilities. He tells a story of girl who couldn’t focus in school. She was unable to sit still long enough to do any work she was being assigned. This behavior resulted in her being clinically classified as suffering from ADHD. While doing homework alone one afternoon, her parents examined her behavior unknowingly to her. After just minutes of sitting at her desk she would get up and begin to move around in a dancing fashion. Her parents then realized that there was nothing wrong with her at all, she was meant to be a dancer. She went on to have one of the most successful dance careers of her generation. Robinson reinforces this story with the notion that all of us are created differently with unique talents; here stands the flaw of standardization. In all of the world’s greatest educational systems, there are similarities within the education culture that America has lacked. In these countries educators are being held to a higher standard and looked at as an investment. Here in the United States teachers are often looked at as a transportation of information.
Throughout countries that thrive in education, it is realized that students are only as good as the teachers. Teaching curriculum is acknowledged at the school level where learning is actually taking place; in comparison to state and government regulated districts, which are essentially disengaged with what is going on inside the classroom here in the US. Without the pressure to meet the demands of a set curriculum, students are able to become engaged in interests and talents individually. Throughout the entire lecture, Robinson invokes the point that Americas educational system is in need of reform. Our system of testing should accompany an overall goal of learning and not be held as primary evidence of a student’s potential. There are many variables that accompany a student’s capabilities besides what is being focused on as a means of evaluation. The standard testing should be held as partial review of capabilities, not as an entirety. Subjects that individual students find spark their interests are being deemed unimportant, leaving the student to feel as though they are incapable of success.
Courses that students find passion in will create a sense of curiosity in learning. When the light of curiosity becomes a student’s motivation is when true self learning takes place. The tragedy is that more than 60% of Americans drop out of high school feeling that they are unable to meet the requirements of life. Robinson makes clear of the fact, “Not any-one human is built the same; we are a world full of individuals”. School systems should give students the tools necessary to find what they are best at and pursue those areas they excel in. The lecture is ended by a request that we start changing the way we approach education. Begin to put learning before standards; with this movement we can tap into brilliant minds that otherwise would be ignored. Once this movement has begun we can in turn, start a revolution.
Robinson, Ken. “Ted Talks.Ken Robinson: How to Escape Education’s Death Valley.”YouTube. YouTube, 10 May 2013. Web. 17 Sept. 2013. Robinson, Ken. “Ted Talks. Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?” YouTube. YouTube, 06 Jan. 2007. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.