On Monday 1st July, Sir Ken Robinson visited the RSA to give us his latest thinking on what our education system really needs in his ‘How To Change Education From The Ground Up’ talk. I was lucky enough to bag a front row seat (hundreds had to make do with watching the live stream via The RSA website, as it sold out faster than Glastonbury apparently!) along with 5 students from The RSA Whitley Academy whom I’m working with on a series of Podcasts titled “What About Tomorrow? – teenagers growing up in uncertain times. And what could be a more fitting way to inspire them on their mission to find out how best to turn young people into evolved, confident, well educated and thoughtful adults with high self esteem and the confidence to follow their own dreams and passions, then to take them along to a lecture being given by the world-renowned educationalist and let’s face it, one very engaging, funny, honest and passionate man.
We were not disappointed.
Sir Ken focussed on what he identifies to be four purposes to public education: Economic, Cultural, Social and Personal and not surprisingly, put a lot of emphasis on the importance of the personal and the celebration of the individual and of difference. When it boils down to it, he says, if you remove all the timetables, and rules, and systems, and bells and the data analysis, true learning, is all about the magic which happens between the pupils – who especially as children have a voracious appetite to learn – and the teachers who are the artists “teaching is an art form”,”we can’t improve education by alienating the people who do the work” so “let’s support rather than vilify our teachers, and support them to inspire their students with a sense of their own possibility”.
Prince Chivaka who is in Year 12 and is Head Boy at the RSA Whitley Academy was lucky enough to pose a question to Sir Ken about what useful role young people like himself and his colleagues could play in the changes at ground level that need to be made, and afterwards, he and his fellow students, Pavani Konda, Cherise McIntosh, Chloe Sedgley and Joseph White got to interview some audience members about their responses to Sir Ken’s talk.