This is a blog response to a post by @learningspy and also @HuntingEnglish, who this morning blogged (a provocation) with some similar frustrations emerging from watching Ken Robinson talks without finding any practical advice. Reading the blog posts has spurred me into action! My blogs are rarely updated and drafts I’m working on are beginning to resemble a thesis rather than a useful sharing of pedagogy/thoughts… but I digress.
My blog response is simple. I have similarly found myself wanting after watching a Ken Robinson talk; wanting to know what I could do as an educator and feeling frustrated by the lack of practical or shapeable actions to help me change my practice to better bring about creativity. Ken Robinson is not your man for the practical stuff. If anyone wants more, then my recommendation is to read lots of other stuff too.
SKR is great and really captures an enthusiasm for encouraging more creativity in schools. The people who put his message into action were people like Richard Gerver, who wrote Creating Tomorrow’s Schools Today. There are a series of interesting reports by CapeUK here. And the best book to read to find a practical ways of doing things from a school really delivering on creativity is Creating Learning without Limits, which tells the story of The Wroxham School who changed the way they worked with young people and started to listen really well to what pupils were saying.
There are tens more books which I have read that have shaped and informed my teaching to bring about more creativity (Jo Boaler, Guy Claxton, Ian Gilbert, Hywel Roberts, Cambridge Primary Review and more). And SKR has been part of the reading and thinking. He doesn’t provide the practical answers, but to think that one talk/book would provide the answers needed would be naive.
It’s important to be clear about what impact watching a TED talk from Sir Ken Robinson can really have on the classroom. It won’t change practice, but it could spark the enthusiasm to change practice and that’s why I am an advocate. The biggest government funded programme for creating learning in recent time, Creative Partnerships, was a response to the Robinson report. The projects from Creative Partnerships didn’t all bring all the answers to bringing about creativity in the classroom, but they were still utterly worthwhile. And from my own experience, they were creative, exciting, engaging and amazing learning experiences for teachers, pupils and practitioners alike. The programme probably would not have happened if a politician somewhere wasn’t roused by a Ted-style talk from Sir Ken Robinson.
So that’s my final point – as educators, we should know that the talks are valuable for sparking enthusiasm for changes in education. For answers and shaping practice, we must read further. To encourage the powers and politicians, we should champion SKR and others, because it’s all part of a bigger picture of influencing policy makers to fund and support and legislate for the types of changes which we know to be valuable.