ONLINE TALKS | At THNK, we truly believe in the need for personalized learning in order for individuals to be able to reach their full potential and be of real value to business and society. Flexibility and customization is at the heart of our vision on the education of the future. Sir Ken Robinson makes precisely this argument regarding children's education in a compelling TEDTalk that is very much worthwhile to watch.
Sir Ken Robinson makes a compelling argument in favor of a radical shift from standardized schools to personalized learning in order to create the conditions under which children's natural talents can flourish. In addition to the crisis of natural resources, Robinson argues, we are faced with a second severe crisis, namely one of human resources. We make very poor use of our talents: very many people go through their whole lives with very little idea of what they are good at. All kinds of people do not enjoy what they do, but they endure it and wait for the weekend. One of the important explanations for this phenomenon is the way in which education is organized and structured, Robinson states.
Education actually dislocates very many people from their natural talents, Robinson says. Human resources are often buried deep, because we are not adequately creating the circumstances in which they are exposed. This is due to the fact that our education systems are based on the concept of linearity and conformity. But life is not linear; rather, it is organic.
"We create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances that they help to create for us."
Although many an education system is currently being reformed, essentially what we are doing is repairing models that are inherently broken. We do not need evolution in education, we need revolution! Education needs to be reformed into something else entirely, and the tyranny of common sense is the biggest obstacle within this process. Many of our ideas have been formed to cope with the challenges of a different time. How do you figure out what you take for granted? To illustrate this age-old dilemma, Robinson uses a beautiful 1862 quote by Abraham Lincoln when he addressed the 2nd annual meeting of Congress:
"The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."
Robinson goes on to argue that human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability. Human talent is tremendously diverse, people have very different aptitudes, and it is ultimately about passion. Often people are not good at things that they do not care about. It is about what excites our spirit and our energy; if you are doing something that you are passionate about, time takes a different course entirely. Often, education does not feed our spirit, our energy, or our passion. Hence, we have to change metaphors. At the heart of the challenge is to reconstitute our sense of ability and intelligence. We have to move from what is essentially an industrial model of education—a manufacturing model, based on linearity and conformity—to a model that is based on principles of agriculture and the idea that human flourishing is an organic process. In order to do so, we have to create the conditions under which individuals may flourish, which can only be done by personalizing education for the people that we are actually teaching. This is the true revolutionization of education.