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Education Trends

Joan Weber on Creativity Expert Sir Ken Robinson

May 28, 2010

Editor's Note: This week's guest blogger is Joan Weber, the facilitator for Edutopia's Arts/Music/Drama group and moderator of the weekly #artsed chat on Twitter. Her post this week covers the highlights of that chat.

Sir Ken Robinson is an international expert in creativity and education. He rose to public prominence with the publication of his book Out of Our Minds and, especially, his very popular 2006 TED Talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity? Sir Ken's message is that our schools were built to educate a population in the middle of the industrial revolution. Today's world is nothing like that world, but our school system has not moved to catch up. Sir Ken recently published The Element, in which he describes how we should all aspire in our professional careers to that place where our passions meet our talents.

On April 15th, Sir Ken was kind enough to join the #artsed chat on Twitter. He is a strong proponent of arts education as a clear-cut path to keeping creativity alive in students. His most recent TED Talk, Bring on the Learning Revolution, was just published online . In this talk, he argues that we need a revolution against "the tyranny of common sense" that guides education right now, the idea that we must continue doing the same thing because that's how we do it. We must "disenthrall" ourselves from these ideas of the 19th century.

This revolution is based in the digital culture so Sir Ken joined the #artsed chat to discuss arts education and the digital culture. Ironically, the Twitter technology could not keep up with our discussion. There were many frustrating moments, but Sir Ken and we muddled through well enough.

@SirKenRobinson: Convincing schools about digital culture is a generational shift. Most kids get it already. Many but not all teachers do.

We talked about how students can be empowered to be the teachers when it comes to technology. The benefits are multi-faceted: classroom leadership, increased technology, different relationship with teacher. He offered up another metaphor of "nativists" vs "immigrants" to the digital culture.

@SirKenRobinson: In the history of immigrant communities, it's often the children who teach the adults about the new culture.

Perhaps because of that generational or experiential divide between the "nativists" and the "immigrants," we are facing a bit of a challenge addressing it. Things that an older, less digital generation may find a bad thing, like too much time on the computer, may be like rock and roll. It's not going anywhere. Sir Ken recommended this article on how much kids are learning when they're on the internet.

@SirKenRobinson: Interesting piece to send to parents

The chat turned directions when Sir Ken brought the conversation around to arts education's place in the digital culture.

@SirKenRobinson: A big question is what the rapid evolution of digital technologies means for the definition and practice of the arts. What are the arts now?

@SirKenRobinson: Sir Ken uses language very well. I especially liked in this portion of the chat when he discussed a new role for teachers as "curators/mentors." I like the idea of looking at teachers as "curators" of the knowledge available to students. And, we are because we can synthesize the infinite amount of information available to us digitally and sift it and sculpt it for our students. We can facilitate learning electronically. We can broadcast our students' accomplishments to the world digitally. And, we can bring the world into our rooms.

The arts, we discussed, are driven by changes in technology. We are the early-adopters. Arts education needs to be leaders in this revolution.

Many thanks to Sir Ken Robinson for the generous donation of his time on a late Thursday afternoon in California. He had a crash course in Twitter over the evening, struggling through multiple outages. But he persevered. He is learning the poetic form that is Twitter, though he may not call it "poetry" just yet.

@SirKenRobinson: Thanks everyone. This was interesting and chaotic too. Digital culture is at least encouraging the new art of the soundbite!

Please join the #ArtsEd chat on Twitter every Thursday evening at 7pm ET/ 4pm PT.

Joan Weber has spent the 20 years working in arts education and education with an emphasis on Currently, Joan serves as adjunct faculty at Howard Community College, where she teaches arts appreciation. She also serves as an adjunct professor with Towson University Arts Integration Institute, a graduate professional certificate program for teachers. Through this program, Joan teaches Drama Integration and is a mentor for graduating students in their Capstone project. Also a principal at Creativity & Associates, Joan is responsible for the education division. She can also be found on Twitter as @creativityassoc

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