Sir Ken Robinson uses this analogy to incorporate three principles on which he believes human life flourishes and which are contradicted by the current dominant culture of education. Here is a breakdown of the three principles:
1) Human beings are naturally different and diverse. Sir Robinson argues that students excel with a broad curriculum that celebrates their various talents, not just a small range of them. Our dominant education culture is one that has supported standardization—now, we must find a way to personalize it.
2) Curiosity is an intrinsic characteristic of human beings. Students and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite their power of imagination and curiosity. As a result, what we have in place of curiosity is compliance. School systems and teachers must assist students in accessing their curious nature,
3) Human life is inherently creative. Sir Robinson calls creativity “the common currency of being a human being.” We wield the ability to create and recreate our lives as we grow. One of the roles of education is to awaken and develop these powers of creativity.
In this talk, he states, “Death Valley isn’t dead, it’s dormant. Right below the surface are these seeds for possibility, waiting for the right conditions to come about. And with organic systems, if the conditions are right, life is inevitable... It happens all the time; you take an area, a school, a district, you change the conditions, give the people a different sense of possibility, a different set of expectations, a broader range of opportunities, you cherish and value the relationships between teachers and learners, you offer people the discretion to be creative and innovative in what they do, and schools that were once bereft, spring to life..."
In sociology, we fervently practice recognizing the countless issues that plague our society, yet we often find that such complex issues do not allow for clear-cut solutions. It is often overwhelming and quite disheartening when we find it almost impossible to untangle such complexities. However, in our current society, there is an emerging integration of social efforts. What we find is that, with the intersectionality of social issues, there are also individuals and organizations from all walks of life—from social scientists, to computer scientists, to business leaders, and policy makers—who all devote their lives to developing solutions to fix common social issues. In the 21st century, education is considered a fundamental component for social development. There are hundreds of initiatives from both the private and public sector contributing to the improvement of our education infrastructure to sustain learning in our current social context. And finally, perhaps it is through this collective awareness and effort that we will be able to provide a better climate for students to thrive.
Sir Ken Robinson is an English author, educator, and public speaker on education in the arts. Click here to watch his eloquent and humorous TED Talk in which he highlights the dichotomy between the nature of individuals and the current dominant culture of education in the U.S. and his words of wisdom to all leaders and members of society.