It’s back to school week for thousands of British children and young people, as well as all the teachers and support staff who work in our 24,000 schools and colleges. Uniforms are being pulled out of bedroom corners. Folders are being dusted off. The first hints of autumn are being carried in the air, even if we’re still being embraced by the longest, sunniest summer in a decade.
All of which makes it the right time to post this video of Ken Robinson speaking at the RSA earlier in the summer. I squeezed in right before they closed the doors. It was a delight to hear him saying that creativity should be embedded into every school – especially as that’s at the heart of Thomas Tallis School in Greenwich, where I’m proud to be a (relatively new) school governor.
It’s worth watching the whole video, but here’s a taster of what he said.
Why, he asked, do we ‘do’ education? His answer came in four parts: economic, cultural, social and personal.
Education, he said, has powerful economic purpose, contributing to health, vitality and sustainability. We want to make our children economically independent – so what does industry want? An IBM report from 2011 of 1,800 leaders in 80 countries said they wanted adaptability and creativity.
The world is complicated and increasingly conflicted. Value systems are knocking against each other head on. We need forms of education that respond to and reflect culture – that allows you to see your own identity and to understand others’.
He points to evidence of political disengagement. It’s important we take part in civil engagement. You do this by having a culture of participation – and schools are a vital part of this.
And finally, it’s about people. “Anything not nuanced to diversity will increase alienation.”
His belief is that change needs to come from the ground up. “We need policy makers to think differently. They appear to believe that you improve things by issuing directives. It’s a false consciousness of how education actually works. If we do something different, government will respond.”
“You cannot improve education,” he said, “by vilifying teachers.”