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In our element – Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson

I went to listen to Sir Ken Robinson last night at the Congress Centre, London. He was speaking about one of his great passions – education and the creativity that should be inherent in it. Following the recent White Paper on education, many working in the field have been dismayed if not horrified by the policy being put forward, particularly the English Baccalureate or E-BAC, which prioritises certain ‘academic subjects over creative ones. Following his talk there was a panel taking questions and it was a very interesting debate.

Here are some of the thoughts and comments which most stood out to me last night. Doubtless there will be more to come as I have time to reflect on what I heard… They are paraphrased, not direct quotes per se, but hopefully they communicate the meaning effectively enough.


There aren’t any purely academic subjects, just as there aren’t any purely creative ones. ANY subject can be approached in a academic or a creative way. If we continue to make this distinction we surrender the very ground we seek to occupy.


The education system we have now is based on a model which is over 150 years old and was conceived in a period of industrial revolution and manufacturing. Its Utility thinking. Therefore the subjects that are most valued are the ones in which you can get a ‘job’. Often children are told: ‘don’t do music, you won’t become a musician’ or ‘don’t do dance, you won’t be a dancer’. But no-one ever says: ‘don’t do maths, you won’t become a mathematician’. The value placed on subjects is related to their perceived ability to get you a job. But not everyone wants or would suit the kinds of jobs some of these subjects steer you towards. The ‘core’ subjects are useful; useful to get you a job. But the arts are different: they’re interesting but useless.


Going to University is still viewed by many as the pinnacle of Education. And whilst University is great, not everyone needs to go – or even wants to go. But that  thinking rather implies that anyone who doesn’t go is an ‘also-ran’.


If you’re doing something you’re tuned into, an hour seems like five minutes. And if its the other way round, five minutes seems like an hour. But if it resonates with you, it replenishes you – like a battery, it recharges your spirit. Its something in which you have a natural aptitude – being in your element. If you do something you love, you’ll never ‘work’ again.*

This fits in well with my own work on Spirituality-value, place & purpose


Culturally and economically we are living in a revolution. This is due to dramatic changes in technology and population growth/diversity. In the last ten years technology has changed profoundly. And we’re only in the beginning. Thus the challenge for Education couldn’t be greater! A growing coalition seeking to challenge the existing White Paper framework and offer an alternative which is more rounded, offers more options and values young people as individuals, rather than by-products of an educational process.



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