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  • 1. RSA/Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms - How we implement sustainable change in education Speaker: Sir Ken Robinson Creativity Expert Chaired by: Matthew Taylor Chief Executive, RSA Date: 16th June 2008 Venue: RSA, 8 John Adam Street, London WC2N 6EZ NB This is an unedited transcript of the event. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy there may be phonetic or other errors depending on inevitable variations in recording quality. Please do contact us to point out any errors, which we will endeavour to correct. To reproduce any part of this transcript in any form please contact RSA Lectures Office at lectures@rsa.org.uk or +44(0)20 7451 6868 The views expressed are not necessarily those of the RSA or its Trustees. www.theRSA.org RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 1
  • 2. Matthew Taylor: This is the available to purchase outside the final RSA Edge lecture in a series which auditorium. has focussed in raising standards in This evening Sir Ken will give education. Each of the debates has the final RSA Edge lecture on identified areas for change. The RSA ‘Changing Paradigms’, how we itself has been at the forefront of implement sustainable change in innovation and change in the education education. sector for many years. But tonight’s event is also the We are continuing with the RSA Benjamin Franklin Medal Lecture. success of ‘Opening Minds’, a three- The Benjamin Franklin Medal was first year pilot in schools using a awarded in 1956 to commemorate competence-based curriculum, based the 250th anniversary of Franklin’s on individual’s needs. The project birth and the 200th anniversary of his continues to change the way that membership of the RSA. Today the learning is organised in schools in order medal is awarded to a global big to make it more relevant to the thinker; someone who has shifted demands placed on it by life in the 21st public debate in an innovative way and century. As part of our commitment to who has contributed to furthering changing education, we are sponsoring public discourse about human an academy in Tipton in the West progress. Midlands. I am delighted now to formally I think ‘Opening Minds’ is now announce the award of the 2008 being taken up by around 200 schools Benjamin Franklin Medal to Sir Ken across England and one of the greatest Robinson and please join me in things about ‘Opening Minds’ is that if welcoming RSA Chairman, Gerry you go to a school that is using it, they Acher, who will present the medal. will often, usually won’t describe it as Gerry. RSA ‘Opening Minds’, they will give it their own name. It has been adapted by Gerry Acher: One of the schools to their own purposes as a most pleasurable jobs of the RSA is framework. presenting the Benjamin Franklin Medal and I am thrilled to be able to But the real point of tonight is present it to you for everything you to introduce you to our marvellous have done and everything that I know speaker, Sir Ken Robinson. Sir Ken is you are doing and will continue to do. an internationally renowned expert in You follow in the footsteps of David the field of creativity and innovation in Puttnam, Marjorie Scardino, Jonathan business and education. He led the Ive and you are a really worthwhile British Government’s 1998 Advisory and exciting recipient of this award Committee on Education and was and to have the pleasure of listening knighted in 2003 for his achievements. to you shortly makes it absolutely You may have seen, and if you thrilling. Thank you very much indeed. have, you are amongst the hundreds of Sir Ken Robinson: Thank thousands of people around the world you very much. Were you surprised who have seen, his inspirational TED when it was actually me that got the talk on ‘Creativity’. Sir Ken’s 2001 medal? Were you? You could feel the book, ‘Out of our Minds: Learning to be tension building, couldn’t you? Who Creative’, explains why it is essential to will it be? Thank you. I am genuinely promote creativity and copies are humbled to have this award. RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 2
  • 3. I was thinking earlier that being had published a book on the Arts in humbled isn’t a normal feeling, is it? I Schools. I have a great passion for the don’t often feel humbled. Disparaged, arts and we were meeting here humiliated, you know, put down, but shortly after the introduction of the humbled is a rather old feeling, isn’t it? National Curriculum in England, which It is not a modern emotion and profoundly misunderstood the place particularly to have this award in the of the arts in education. So I was name of Benjamin Franklin who was the talking about how the arts could be most remarkable man. made part of the mainstream of education. He lived nearby in Craven Street. The house is a few minutes Here we are 17 years later away and I really recommend that you when it is all so different I feel. So I go and take a look at it. It is has just want to say a few words about that been opened, just been renovated. It is and I want to show you a couple of a very powerful evocation of the life of short movie clips and then to have a this extraordinary figure. A man who conversation with you. was deeply involved in the growth of One of the things that has industrialism, at the heart of the happened to me since 1990 is that I Enlightenment, at the heart of the have moved to live in America and I creation of the New World and with a moved there seven years ago at the passion for education. invitation of the Getty Centre. I didn’t A man who is also deeply flee Great Britain but put yourself in interested in science, in the arts, in the my place. I had a phone call on the 3rd humanities and in politics. A polymath, I January 1990 when I was living near think, a Renaissance figure in the heart Coventry. This guy said, “Would you of the Enlightenment and one of the like to come and live in California?” first significant members of the Royal We left immediately. Society of Arts. If you don’t know this I didn’t ask what the job was, institution, I really encourage you to we just went. The phone is still find out more about it. swinging on the hook actually in the It was founded, I think I am house and we hope one day the correct in saying, in 1753, by William children will track us down but we Shipley and its full name is the Royal don’t care. Society for the Encouragement of Arts, But I now live in America and I Manufactures and Commerce. It has love it. Who has been to Los Angeles had a long history in the promotion and here, anyone? It is an extraordinary advocacy of appropriate forms of public place. We were in Las Vegas recently, education. my wife and I. We’ve been together I have had a long association for 30 years and we decided last year myself with the RSA. I gave a lecture to get married again so we went to here, even Matthew may not know this, the Elvis Chapel. No, I recommend it. in July of 1990, in this very room and I You should do it. We had the Blue propose to repeat it word for word if Hawaii package but there are others. that is all right. I don’t see why I should But with the Blue Hawaii package you waste time thinking up anything fresh get the Elvis impersonator, four songs, for you frankly. the chapel of course, a puff of smoke No, in 1990, I had been running as you go in. You have to request a National Arts in Schools project and I that. And a hula girl, that was optional but I opted for it and, for reasons I RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 3
  • 4. was rather pleased about frankly. For other things, the Royal Society of Arts another $100 we could have had a pink and all of its works. Cadillac, but we thought that was a bit But I believe that we tacky. We thought that was lowering systematically destroy this capacity in the tone of the whole occasion frankly, our children and in ourselves. Now I but I mention it because Las Vegas is an pick my words carefully. I don’t say iconic example of the thing I would like deliberately, I don’t think it is us to talk about, not Las Vegas itself, deliberate but it happens to be but the idea that gave rise to it. systematic. We do it routinely, If you think of it, every other unthinkingly, and that is the worst of city on earth has a reason to be where it because we take for granted certain it is. Like London, it is in a natural basin, ideas about education, about children, so it is good for trade, or it is in a about what it is to be educated; about harbour, or it is in a valley so it’s good social need and about social utility, for agriculture, you know, or it’s on a about economic purpose. We take hillside so it is good for defence. None these ideas for granted and they turn of this is true of Las Vegas. There is no out not to be true. physical reason for it to be there. The Many ideas which seem only reason it is there is the thing that obvious turn out not to be true. That gave rise to this organisation that was really the great adventure of the affects very aspect of your life, which Enlightenment; ideas that seemed makes humanity what it is. The only obvious that turned out not to be thing, in my opinion, which is the true. Ironically though I believe the extraordinary power which is bestowed legacy of the Enlightenment is now on human beings that no other species hampering the reforms that are has, as far as we can judge. needed in education. I mean the power of We have grown up in a system imagination. We take it totally for of public education which is granted. This capacity to bring into dominated by two ideas. One of them mind things that aren’t present and, on is a conception of economic utility that basis, to hypothesise about things and you can illustrate that directly. It that have never been, but could be. is implicit in the structure of the Every feature of human culture, school curriculum. It is simply in my view, is the consequence of this present. There is in every school unique capacity. Now other creatures system on earth a hierarchy of may have something like it. Other subjects. You know it, you went creatures sing, but they don’t write through it. If you are in education you operas. Other creatures are agile but probably subscribe to it or you they don’t form Olympic committees. contribute to it somehow. They communicate but they don’t have When we moved to America festivals of theatre. They have we put our kids into high school and structures but they don’t build buildings it was recognisable, the curriculum and furnish them. We are unique in this was totally recognisable. Maths, capacity, a capacity that has produced Science and English Language at the the most extraordinary diversity of top; then the Humanities and the Arts human culture, of enterprise, of way down the bottom and in the Arts innovation. 6,000 languages currently there is always another hierarchy, Art spoken on earth and the great and Music are always thought to be adventure which produced, among RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 4
  • 5. more important than Drama and to Behave in America’, honestly, by our Dance. removals agent. ‘How to Behave in America’ I’m handing it out to all the There isn’t a school in the Americans I meet now, you do it, you country that I know of, sorry, a school do it, let’s all behave properly shall system, let me be clear. There isn’t a we? school system actually anywhere that teaches Dance every day, But one of the things it said in systematically, to every child in the way it was don’t hug people in America, that we require them to learn they don’t like it. Honestly, it was Mathematics. Now I am not against explicit, they don’t like it. This turns Mathematics. On the contrary, but why out to be nonsense. They love it. is Dance such a loser in the system? People in my experience love getting hugged in America but we thought Well I think one of the reasons they didn’t so for the first year we is, people never saw any economic kept our arms to our sides at social point in it. So there is an economic functions for fear of giving offence and judgement that is made in the structure this all added to the idea that we of the school curriculum. I am sure it typified British reserve or that we was true of you, you probably found were some refugees from yourself benignly steered away from ‘Riverdance’, you know. things you were good at at school, towards things that other people But I was told the Americans advised you would be more useful to don’t get irony and then I came across you. this piece of legislation in America called ‘No Child Left Behind’, and I So effectively, our school thought, whoever came up with that curricula are based on the premise that title gets irony because this legislation there are two sorts of subject; useful is leaving millions of children behind. ones and useless ones. The useless Of course, that is not a very attractive ones fall away eventually and they fall name for legislation, ‘Millions of away especially when money starts to Children Left Behind’ I can see that become tight, as it always is. but give or take a twiddle, it’s the George Bush was in town today, 1988 Education Act in this country. wasn’t he? I just thought I would share It was the manifesto pretty the pain, that was all. I am feeling it. No, much that inspired the work of Chris President Bush, as I call him, was Woodhead, I believe, during his time responsible, with others, for a cross- at Ofsted. Now I think this is party piece of legislation in America to important because what it represents reform public education. I have lots of to me is the ideology of education conversations about it now I live in writ large and that is the problem. America, which I shall keep saying by the way, to make you feel bad. Okay, I So I am going to be talking live in California … and you don’t, so about changing paradigms. My firm there you go. conviction is that we have to do much, much more than is currently When I got to America I was happening. Every country on earth at told that the Americans don’t get irony. the moment is reforming public This is not true, this is a British conceit. education. I don’t know of an I feel okay about it because there are exception. Mark you, what’s new? We other one, when we went to America have always been reforming public we were given a guidebook about ‘How education but we are doing it now RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 5
  • 6. consistently and systematically all over Jesuits if you had the money but the place. public education, paid for by taxation, compulsory to everybody and free at There are two reasons for it. the point of delivery, that was a The first of them is economic. People revolutionary idea. Many people are trying to work out, how do we objected to it. They said, “It’s not educate our children to take their place possible for many street kids, working in the economies of the 21st century class children, to benefit from public given that we can’t anticipate what the education. They are incapable of economy will look like at the end of learning to read and write and why next week, as the recent turmoil is are we spending time on this?” demonstrating. How do we do that? So there is also built into it a The second though is cultural. whole series of assumptions about Every country on earth is trying to social structure and capacity. But it figure out how do we educate our was designed for its purpose, which children so that they have a sense of was why, as the public system evolved cultural identity and so that we can pass in the 19th and early 20th century, we on the cultural genes of our ended up with a very broad base of communities while being part of the process of globalisation. How do we elementary education, junior schools. square that circle? Everybody went to that. My father’s father, my grandfather, he went to Most countries, I believe, are that. He left school by the time he doing what we were doing in 1988. was 12. Most people did then at the Operating on the premise that the turn of the century. Then gradually challenge is to reform education to we introduced a layer above it of make it a better version of what it was. secondary education and some people In other words, the challenge is just to went into that but my father left do better what we did before but to school at 14 having gone into that. improve and we have to raise Then a small university sector standards. sat across the top of it and the And people say that we have to assumption was that people would raise standards as if it was a break- work and a few would get to the top through. You know, like really, we and would go to university. It was should. Why would you lower them? I modelled on the economic premises haven’t come across an argument that of industrialism. That is, that we persuades me of lowering them but needed a broad base of people to do raise them? Of course we should raise manual blue-collar work; you know, them. roughly they could do language and The problem is that the current arithmetic. A smaller group who system of education, in my view and could go to administrative work, that experience, was designed and is what the grammar schools were for conceived and structured for a different and an even smaller group who would age. It was conceived in the intellectual go off and run the Empire for us and culture of the Enlightenment and in the become the lawyers and the judges economic circumstances of the and the doctors and they went to the Industrial Revolution. Before the middle universities. of the 19th century, there were no Now I simplify, but that is systems of public education. Not really, essentially how the thing came about you know, you could get educated by and it was driven by an economic RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 6
  • 7. imperative of the time, but running But his work is an attempt to right through it was an intellectual put the case back into a modern model of the mind, which was context. I believe he is right and it is essentially the Enlightenment view of not just his view. A group of intelligence. That real intelligence geologists have just published a paper consists in the capacity for a certain in which they argue that the earth has type of deductive reasoning and a entered a new geological period. knowledge of the Classics originally, Classically the view is that since the what we come to think of as academic end of the last Ice Age, about 12,000 ability. years ago, we were in a period called the Holocene period. This is deep in the gene pool of public education that there are really They believe we have entered two types of people, academic and non- a new period and they say if people academic. Smart people and non-smart were to, a future generation of people and the consequence of that is geologists were to come to earth, that many brilliant people think they are they would see the evidence of it, of a not because they have been judged change in the earth’s geological against this particular view of the mind. personality. They would see it in the evidence of carbon deposits in the So we have twin pillars, earth’s crust, the acidification of economic and intellectual and my view oceans, the evidence of a mass is that this model has caused chaos in extinction of species, the change in many people’s lives. It has been great the earth’s atmosphere and a hundred for some. There have been people who other indicators. They say it is have benefited wonderfully from it but unmistakably, in their view, a new most people have not and it has geological period. And a series of created a massive problem. Nobel scientists have agreed to this I spoke at a conference a view. They are provisionally calling couple, well the TED conference that this not the Holocene but the Matthew referred to. One of the other Anthropocene. What they mean by speakers was Al Gore, or Al as I refer that is a geological age, created by the to him. Al Gore gave the talk at the activities of people, as in Anthropoids. TED conference; by the way if you And they say there is no historical don’t know the TED conference I do precedence for this and this is really recommend you visit the website, what I want to get to. TED.com. It is fantastic. But Al Gore Benjamin Franklin, Thomas gave the talk that became the movie, Jefferson, William Shipley, the great ‘Inconvenient Truth’. figures of the Enlightenment, both in Al Gore’s view, which isn’t his, politics and science and the Arts, he would be the first to say it. It dates were conceiving public education and back to Rachael Carson and earlier. It civic structures and politics of duty at actually dates back if you look, even to a time of revolutionary turmoil. It was the work of Linnaeus in the 18th the age of revolutions in France, in century. It dates back to Franklin. It America, not long after our civil dates back to the work of this Society. disturbance here, at a time of A concern with the ecology of the extraordinary intellectual adventures natural works and the sustainability of and new horizons; extraordinary industrialism in the 17th and 18th century innovation. For them there was we were concerned about it. nothing really that ever led to an age of such innovation and such RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 7
  • 8. extraordinary change, the rate of it and Prison system. Now I cannot believe it was a fair characterisation of the that more potential criminals are born times. every year in California than potential college graduates. What you have are But there is every evidence to people in bad conditions going bad. show now that what was happening then is as nothing to what is happening I remember Bernard Levin now. I believe the changes taking place once, he wrote in one of his articles on earth now are without precedent in in The Times, he said he had been at a terms of their character and their dinner party and he was asked, the implications. And our best salvation is question round the dinner table was, to develop this capacity for imagination “Are people mainly good or mainly and to do it systematically through bad?” He said, without hesitation, public education and to connect people “They are mainly good.” He said, “I with their true talents. We simply can’t was astonished to find I was in a afford this devastation any more. minority around the table, I was in a minority of one.” So when Al Gore talks about this, I believe him. And I think if you But he believed with Victor don’t believe there is a crisis in the Frankel, who survived the Holocaust, world’s natural environment, then you and saw his parents die, that for all of are not paying attention and I would that people are fundamentally good. I take the option to leave the planet believe they are fundamentally good soon. but there are people living in very bad circumstances and conditions and if You see, I believe that there is a you put people in poor conditions parallel climate crisis. Now one of them they behave in particular ways. is probably enough for you honestly. You might think, ‘No, I am fine, one is So we spend a lot of our time good.’ You know, ‘I don’t need a remediating the damage and second one.’ But there is a second one meanwhile I believe that the other and it is what my work is about and I exact parallel is that pharmaceutical guess what many of you will be companies are reaping a Gold Rush concerned about and I know what Edge from this distress. If you look at the is concerned about and what Matthew growth of antidepressants, and the RSA is currently concerned prescription drugs to treat about, but let me put it in a particular depression, to suppress people’s way to you. feelings, this is a Gold Rush. I mean pharmaceutical companies don’t want I believe there is a global crisis, to cure depression, on the contrary. not in natural resources, though I believe it, a global crisis in human I mean also, one of the figures resources. I believe that the parallel I saw recently is that suicide rates with the crisis in the natural world is among 15 – 30 year olds have exact and the cost of clearing this up increased over 60% globally since the are catastrophic. 1960s. It is one of largest causes of death among young people. I mean, I will give you a couple of quick what is that? People born with hope examples: in California the State and optimism who decide to check Government last year spent about $3 out because they can’t cope. billion on the State University system, this is their published figures. They Now I don’t say education is a spent over $9 billion on the State part of that, or responsible for it, but RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 8
  • 9. it contributes to it. That is really all I which I feel are getting this right but want to say. So this crisis of human was are not and the reason is because resources is, I think, absolutely urgent we are not fundamentally changing the and palpable. underlying assumptions of the system which are to do with intelligence, So the challenge for me is not ability, economic purpose and what to reform education but to transform it people need. into something else. I think we have to come to a different set of assumptions. We still educate people from the outside in. We figure out what Now, I say this advisedly the country needs and then we try because I have been involved in all kinds and get them to conform with it of initiatives over my professional life. I rather than seeing what makes people started out in drama work, I moved, I drive forward and building education ran a big Arts and schools project. systems around a model of person- Some of the people in the room I have hood, which I think is what we should known for years and I’ve worked with come to. for years and I’ve had a long association here. So let me just, I just want to show you a couple of quick slides to, One of the great initiatives of … I don’t have to, but as I’ve gone to the RSA in the 1980s was ‘Education the trouble of preparing them … for Capability’. You should look at frankly, I just want to give you an ‘Education for Capability’, it said example of a couple of things here. extraordinary useful and practical things Oh, by the way, some of these things, and there were wonderful people as Matthew kindly said, are in this around it. Charles Handy, who I have book. got to know recently, well not recently, but who I have got to know well in This book, by the way, is recent years, who was Chairman here terrific. You could not do better than of the RSA. Tyrell Burgess, Corelli buy this book. That is, unless you buy Barnet, Patrick Lutchens, I shared an this book, which is the new book apartment when I was a student with which is coming out in January from Patrick’s son and a kind of, a galaxy of Penguin. I am very excited about this really powerful thinkers. book. This book is about the nature of human talent and how people John Tomlinson, who are discover it. It is based on the premise Chairman here for a while, who was that people do their best when they with me at Warwick University. There do the thing they love, when they are has been a long tradition of arguing for in their element. the change, arguing for the alternative and yet successive Governments come So I was trying to get to grips in and do what they did before. And with what that is. What is it to be in this really worries me, and I speak your element? I spoke to scientists personally. After all the optimism I felt and artists and business leaders and ten years ago, I feel that we’ve had, poets and parents and kids and it over the past ten years, a kind of seems to me the evidence is myriad policies but too few principles. absolutely persuasive. When people connect this powerful sense of talent I can’t see what they have added within themselves, discover what it is up to and I say that because I didn’t see they can do, they become somebody it before and I don’t see it anywhere else and that to me is the premise of else. I mean, there are some countries building a new education system. It is RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 9
  • 10. not about reinforcing the old model but Our kids don’t and it points to reconstituting our sense of self and it something important. A guy called happens to synergise, is that a verb, I’m Marc Prensky made this point that not sure, with the new economic our children live in a different world. purposes. He talks about the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants. If There are two big drivers of you are born, if you are under 20, you change currently; one is technology, are a native. You speak digital. You you know that. This is a brain cell; what were born with this stuff and it is in I just want, I’m not going to dwell on it your head like a first language. We are but what I just want to underline is that less so. technology is moving faster than most people really truthfully understand. But the point is, this is getting faster and faster and faster. One of Can I ask you, how many of you the new horizons is likely to be the here consider yourself to be ‘baby merging of human intelligence with boomers’ or older? I thought so. Who information systems. That is a brain is not? Who considers yourself to be a cell and that is a brain cell growing on generation X-er or a millennial? Okay. a silicone chip. Well, we’ll see. You boomer types and older … no, actually, if you are over 30, would you But there are things that lie put your hands up if you are wearing a ahead for which there are no wrist watch … there we go, thank you, precedent and they impact on culture. just curious. No, this is interesting. Ask It promises to be extraordinary. a roomful of teenagers the same This is the other thing I want question, ask them if they wear to point to, which is the curve of the wristwatches and they mainly don’t. world’s population; you see, 1750, The reason is, I want to make when the RSA was being established two points, the reason they don’t wear and William Shipley was wondering wristwatches is because they don’t see what to do in the evenings, there the point because for them time is were about a billion people on the everywhere. It is on their i-phones, whole of the earth. Pretty evenly their i-pods, their mobile phones, it is distributed; mostly in the far-flung everywhere. No, why would you wear parts of what became the Empire, but this. My daughter can’t understand me; a lot of them in what were to become why I would put a special device on my the industrialised economies. About a wrist to tell the time. And she said, billion people; London was a tiny “Plus, this only does one thing.” place by comparison. So then it’s like, how lame is Now, if you look at this curve, that? A single-function device, so have we are about six billion and the big you cracked up … but we take it for jump happened in 1970, well from granted don’t we? You have other 1970 to the year 2000 where the options but this thing about taking it for population of the earth increased by 3 granted is important. It is the things we million. 1968 you will remember was take for granted that we need to the summer of love. It is probably a identify and question. I mean did you coincidence but we all did our bit. But think about putting your watch on this the interesting thing, the dark line is morning. Truthfully, was it like an the growth of population in the agony? Shall I? You know, is it a watchy developed economies. The real day? I’ll put it on to be safe. You don’t, growth is happening in the emergent do you? You just do it. economies; in Asia, Africa, parts of RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 10
  • 11. South America and so on and it’s figures. In America since 1980, more heading to nine billion. or less, spending on education has The other thing that is increased 73% in real money, class happening is that the world is becoming sizes have gone down to historically increasingly urbanised. At the beginning low levels but on this indictor, of the 18th century into the 19th literacy, there has been no change in century, most people lived in the achievement. More money, smaller countryside. About 3% of people lived classes, no change; drop-out rates are in the cities. Of course, the great social increasing, graduation rates are movement of industrialism was the declining. It is a major problem. migration to the cities but even so, at The problem is, they are trying the turn of the 20th century it was still to meet the future by doing what they something less than 20% of the people did in the past and on the way they lived in cities. are alienating millions of kids who Currently 50% of the world’s don’t see any purpose in going to population lives in cities. 50% of the six school. When we went to school, we billion and we are heading to 60% of were kept there with a story, which nine billion people living in cities, not was if you worked hard and did well here, not in the UK, not in America, and got a college degree, you would not in the rest of Europe but in the have a job. Our kids don’t believe that emergent economies. Now this massive and they are right not to by the way. migration is without precedent. So You are better having a degree than these aren’t going to be groovy cities not but it is not a guarantee any more with information booths and property and particularly not if the route to it taxes and Starbucks; these are massive, marginalises most of the things that sprawling, vernacular cities. Probably you think are important about more like this. yourself. This is Caracas in Venezuela, a One of the things that sits massive and rapidly growing metropolis. right in the middle of this is this idea But greater Tokyo at the moment has a that there are academic and non- population of 35 million people which is academic kids. That there is more than the entire population of something called vocational training, Canada in one place. By the middle of which is not as good as academic the century there may be twenty mega- education; that people with cities, over 500 cities over a million. theoretical degrees are inherently You can see my point here that these better people than those who can do are unprecedented circumstances, an real craft and the kind of work which unprecedented drain on the earth’s previously would have been venerated resources and an unprecedented in Guild systems. We have this demand for innovation, for fresh intellectual apartheid running through thinking, for fresh social systems, fresh education and so lots of people try to ways of getting people to connect with defend it or to repair it. I think we themselves and have lives with purpose just have to recognise that it is and meaning. mythical and we have to strip it out of our thinking. Education is a major part of the solution. The problem is, I believe we This is one of the are backing the wrong horses. There consequences of it. Let me ask you was a report by McKinsey recently another question: how many of you which showed this. These are American who are not, how many of you over RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 11
  • 12. 30 have had your tonsils removed? Be mistake me, I don’t mean to say there frank with me. Okay, I ask you this for a is no such thing as Attention Deficit reason. Again it is things we take for Disorder. I am not qualified to say if granted. People of my generation, I was there is such a thing. I know a great born in 1950. Now I know you don’t majority of psychologists and believe that, I can see the sense of paediatricians think there is such a incredulity sweeping the room, how thing but it is still a matter of debate. could it be, you are saying to yourself? What I do know for a fact is it Well, I live in Los Angeles, I’ve had is not an epidemic. I believe that these work done, what can I tell you? kids are being medicated as routinely No, but, people of my as we had our tonsils taken out and generation, in the 50s and 60s and in on the same whimsical basis and for the 40s, I guess, the minute they had a the same reason, medical fashion. sore throat, somebody pounced on Our children are living in the them and took their tonsils out. That is most intensely stimulating period in true isn’t it? It was routine to have your the history of the earth. They are tonsils removed. You could not afford being besieged with information and to have a ticklish cough in the 1950s or calls for their attention, from every somebody would reach for your throat platform; computers, from i-phones, in a premature way and remove your from advertising hoardings, from tonsils. It was routine. Millions of hundreds of television channels and tonsils were removed in that period. we are penalising them now for What happened to them? We don’t getting distracted. From what? Boring know. I believe it’s a scandal, I don’t stuff, at school, for the most part. know. It is one of those things like Rockwell, like Area 56, you know, It seems to me that it is not a somewhere in America, in a desert, coincidence totally that the instance there is this stockpile. of ADHD has risen in parallel with the growth of standardised testing. Anyway, the thing about this is this, nowadays people do have Now these kids are being tonsillectomies but it is not common, it given Ritalin and Adderall and all is unusual to have it done. You have to manor of things, often quite have a chronic case with no hope of it dangerous drugs, to get them focused being repaired in some other way, to and calm them down. Now, I know have your tonsils taken out. When I this is nonsense, immediately you see was growing up they were thought to this thing. Because the light areas are be totally disposable. We’ll just whip where there isn’t much of it. Now, I them out and not have any more live in California and people there nonsense about them and some people won’t pay attention for more than a voluntarily had it done so that they minute and a half, you know, so … could get the ice cream. but according to this Attention Deficit Disorder increases as you travel East Our children, this generation, across the country. People start losing do not suffer the plague of interest in Oklahoma … they can tonsillectomies. Instead they suffer this. hardly think straight in Arkansas and This is the modern epidemic and it is as by the time they get to Washington misplaced and it is as fictitious. This is they have lost it completely, and there the plague of ADHD. Now this is a map are separate reasons for that I believe. of the instance of ADHD in America, or prescriptions for ADHD. Don’t RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 12
  • 13. It is a fictitious epidemic. I was larger groups. Or sometimes they saying earlier, I have a big interest in the want to be on their own. If you are Arts and, if you think of it, the Arts, and interested in the model of learning, I don’t say this exclusively to the Arts, I you don’t start from this production- think it is also true of Science and of line mentality. Maths. I say it about Arts particularly These are some of the key because they are the victims of this words in the industrial model. Utility, mentality currently, particularly. which shapes the curriculum; linearity, The Arts especially address the which informs choices and the idea of aesthetic experience and assumptions of what matters and aesthetic experience is one in which what doesn’t. It is essentially about your senses are operating at their peak. conformity and increasingly it is about When you are present in the current that as you look at the growth of moment, when you are resonating in standardised testing and standardised the excitement of this thing you are curricula. And it is about experiencing, when you are fully alive. standardisation. And anaesthetic is when you shut your Now for reasons that we will senses off and deaden yourself to what come to just before we’re done, I is happening and a lot of these drugs believe we’ve got to go in the exact are that. We are getting our children opposite direction. That is what I through education by anaesthetising mean about changing the paradigm. them. We have to question what we take I think we should be doing the for granted. The problem with exact opposite. We shouldn’t be questioning what we take for granted putting them asleep, we should be is that you don’t know what it is. waking them up to what they have Just have a quick read of this. I inside themselves. But the model we love this quote, this, as you can see is have is this, I believe we have a system from Bertrand Russell and it seems to of education that is modelled on the me to be the quintessential question interests of industrialism and in the of western philosophy. You know, image of it. when it comes to it, what is this? You I will give you a couple of know, are we all that Hamlet thought examples. Schools are still pretty much we were or are we just a cosmic organised on factory lines; ringing bells, accident of no importance. separate facilities; specialised into I got really interested in this separate subjects. We still educate first part of the question. This small children by batches. We put them and unimportant planet. Well how through the system by age group. Why small? How unimportant is this planet? do we do that? What is there this It is hard to get an image of it isn’t it assumption that the most important because, if you think of it, the thing kids have in common is how old distances in space are so vast. For they are? instance, this is a picture from the It is like the most important Hubble telescope, this is the thing about them is their date of magellanic cloud. Well, you know, manufacture. Well I know kids that are distance in space is measured in light much better than other kids at the years; distance light travels in a year, same age in different disciplines. You which is far. Truthfully, you know, I know, or at different times of the day; mean that is further than Brighton, no or better in smaller groups than in really. RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 13
  • 14. Now, that is 170,000 light years. know that? Well keep your eye on Can you get your head round that? It is the sun because that is not the biggest just, oh it’s big. And where does the thing on the block. This is the sun earth fit in all of that. The problem with against some other objects, not in our getting any sense of how big the earth solar system but that you can see in is or small, is that the distances are so the night sky. immense that they blur our perception So Jupiter is one pixel now and of relative size. So I came across this the earth has gone. So we want to be image, ((?)) on the Internet, I just friends with Arcturus but keep your quickly want to show them to you. eye on Arcturus for a minute because I think they are absolutely I think our best friend is Antares. I fantastic. I have had them re-rendered mean that is extraordinary isn’t it. for your benefit. These are pictures of, So go back to that and we are I suddenly had the brilliant idea of infinitesimally, pitifully tiny in the great taking the earth out of the sky and cosmic scheme. lining it up with some other planets in the solar system for purpose of Now, I just want to say a comparison of size. So it is like a team couple of things quickly, the first is, photo, you know, of some of the whatever you woke up worrying planets of the solar system and beyond. about this morning, really, get over it. It starts with this. Honestly, make the call and move on. Now there are a couple of But the second thing is this, things … I think we are looking good, that this may be but we do have this that is the first thing to say about this. extraordinary power and I can put it But there are a couple of things I want this way. We have a power which to say about it. The first is, that I think enables us to conceive of our own we are less concerned than we were insignificance. No other species on about being invaded by Martian hordes, earth is sitting round getting anxiety aren’t we. I mean, bring it on, I feel. attacks over these images. You know, Like, you and whose army, I think we you don’t see other species in little are feeling. forest clearings saying, “I had no idea. I mean, trust me, I wasn’t expecting The second thing is that Pluto is this.” They weren’t and they didn’t no longer a planet and frankly we can produce these images either. We see why now can’t we? What were we have this extraordinary human power thinking? You know, it’s a boulder to conceive of objects and experience frankly. outside of our current experience and But pull back a bit though, and it to express them in conceptual and is a bit less encouraging isn’t it? Don’t symbolic forms in ways that other you think, a bit less encouraging and people can engage with and grasp. Pluto is a kind of cosmic We are therefore the species embarrassment now so we don’t even that did produce Hamlet and the … But we know the sun is a big deal work of Mozart and the Industrial but how big exactly is the sun Revolution and this extraordinary compared to the earth? building with its amazing images and So this is, I checked this with hip hop and jazz and quantum some astrophysicists and they said, yes, mechanics and the theory of relativity this would be about right. Here we are and air travel and the jet engine and with the sun in the picture. Did you all the things that characterise the RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 14
  • 15. extraordinary assent of human culture. 80%? Okay, 98%. Now the thing about this was it was a But we destroy it in the way we longitudinal study. So they re-tested educate people. I just want to end this the same children five years later, and open up for some conversation by aged 8 – 10, what do you think? 50%, giving an example of something. There they re-tested them again five years was a great study done recently of later aged 13 – 15. You can see a divergent thinking, published a couple trend here can’t you? They tested of years ago. Divergent thinking isn’t 200,000 adults, 25 years and older, the same thing as creativity. I define just once as control, what do you creativity as the process of having think? original ideas that have value. Now, I always say, if you are in Divergent thinking isn’t a business, these are the people you are synonym but it is an essential capacity hiring. This tells and interesting story for creativity. It is the ability to see lots because you could have imagined it of possible answers to a question, lots going the other way, couldn’t you? of possible ways of interpreting a You start off not being very good but question, to think what Edward de you get better as you get older. But Bono would probably call laterally, to this shows two things; one is that we think not just in linear or convergent all have this capacity and two, it ways; to see multiple answers not one. mostly deteriorates. So, I mean there are tests for A lot of things have happened this. One kind of cold example would to these kids as they’ve grown up, a be, people might be asked to say how lot but one of the most important many uses can you think of for a things that has happened to them, I paperclip? One of those routine am convinced, is that by now they questions. Most people might come up have become educated. They have with ten or fifteen; people who are spent ten years at school being told good at this might come up with two there is one answer, it’s at the back hundred. They do this by saying, “Well, and don’t look, and don’t copy could the paperclip be 200 feet tall and because that is cheating. I mean be made out of foam rubber?” Like, outside schools that is called does it have to be a paperclip as we collaboration but inside schools … know it, Jim? This isn’t because teachers There are tests for this and they want it this way, it is just because it gave them to 1,500 people in a book happens that way. It is because it is in called ‘Breakpoint and Beyond’, and on the gene pool of education and to the protocol of the test, if you scored transform it we have to think above a certain level you would be differently, let me just quickly say this, considered to be a genius at divergent we have to think differently about thinking. human capacity. This is what my book So, my question to you is, what ‘The Element’ is about. We have to get percentage of the people tested, of the over this old conception of academic, 1,500, scored at genius level for non-academic, abstract, theoretical, divergent thinking. Now, you need to vocational and see it for what it is, a know one more thing about them. myth. These were kindergarten children. So Second, we have to recognise what do you think? What percentage that most great learning happens in were genius level? groups, that collaboration is the stuff RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 15
  • 16. of growth. If we atomise people and You know the way you work separate them and judge them in an organisation is deeply affected by separately we form a kind of disjunction your feeling for it. Therefore, I think a between them and their natural much better metaphor is not learning environment. And, thirdly, it is industrialism but agriculture or an crucially about the culture of our organic metaphor. institutions, the habits of institution and I am doing a whole project at the habitats they occupy. the moment in the state of Oklahoma, I came across, sorry if I can just where I am trying to develop these put my hand on it, a great quote ideas across the whole state. But I recently, which seemed to me to mentioned Las Vegas at the beginning, capture some of this, about this I will just show you a last image of this distinction between ourselves and now. Not far from Las Vegas is a other species. I rather like this as a place called Death Valley. Death view, it says that when we come to Valley is the hottest place in America. assess people we should be fairer with Not much grows in Death Valley ourselves. It says ‘after all human beings because it doesn’t rain. In the winter were born of risen apes not fallen of 2004, something remarkable angels. So what shall we wonder at? happened. It rained, 7 inches, and in Our massacres, our missiles or our the spring of 2005 there was a symphonies. The miracle of humankind phenomenon, the whole floor of is not how far we have sunk, but how Death Valley was coated with spring magnificently we have risen. We will be flowers. Photographers and botanists known among the stars, not by our and scientists came from the whole of corpses but by our poems.’ across of America to witness this thing that they might not see again. I believe there is a profound truth in that. We have it within our What it demonstrated was grasp to form systems of education that Death Valley wasn’t dead. It was based on these different principles but asleep. Right beneath the surface it means a shift from the industrial were these seeds of growth waiting metaphor of education to what I think for conditions and I believe it is of as an agricultural metaphor. exactly the same way with human beings. If we create the right If you think of it, if you look at conditions in our school, if we create the organisational chart of most the right incentives, if we value each companies and organisations, it looks a learner for themselves and properly, bit like a wiring diagram, doesn’t it? If growth will happen. And the growth you look at the structure, like boxes always happens. Before we are done I and things connected. But human want to show you a couple of very organisations are not like mechanisms short videos that will demonstrate but even though these charts suggest the we will go into our discussion with metaphor that they are. Matthew just now. But I think we Human organisations are much need to shift from this industrial more like organisms. That is to say, paradigm to an organic paradigm and I they depend upon feelings and think it is perfectly doable. relationships and motivation and value, We need to conceive of self-value and a sense of identity and of institutions individually, not system- community. wide, as ones which don’t just value utility but respect and promote living RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 16
  • 17. vitality, the energy of the organisation Sir Ken Robinson: Okay, can and its potential to be transformative. I show you a small film clip? That doesn’t think in terms of linearity Matthew Taylor: Of course. but thinks of creativity and multiple options and multiple possibilities for Sir Ken Robinson: This is of everybody in it. That is not about a school in Massachusetts, now it is conformity but about diversity and that maybe not what you are expecting is critically about customisation. but this is a school that six years ago was one of the lowest performing This is Death Valley in the schools in the State. The State is one spring of 2005, I think all our schools of the highest performing States in the could be like that. Somebody once said, country for regular types of work. “The problem with human beings is not They had a new principal come in and that we aim too high and fail; it is that five years on there is a waiting list to we aim too low and succeed.” I think get into the school. They have gone we owe it to William Shipley and from the situation where no child Benjamin Franklin to aim high. from the school had ever gone to Benjamin Franklin once notably college, to one now where they all go said, “There are three sorts of people without exception. in the world; those who are immovable, It’s a partnership with Clark those who are movable and those who University in Massachusetts. I would move.” I encourage you at the RSA to like to show you that and before we move and get a move on. are done there is a fantastic dance Thank you. programme with young offenders that I would like to show you a few Matthew Taylor: Well thank minutes of just before we finish. you for that. It was fantastic and I actually spent the weekend working on Video Soundtrack: The a speech around how we can’t tackle States High School drop out rate 3.7% the kind of problems that we face like is the highest it has been in 14 years. climate change, globalisation, population In Boston the States largest schools ageing, unless we can kind of dethrone system, it is predicted that 25% of the the idea of Western selfhood that has senior class will have dropped out by emerged over the last … so I should June. Amongst current juniors, the borrow some of your ideas for my number is projected to rise to 31%. speech and that is okay. Yet in Worcester there is a school where the drop out rate hovers near Sir Ken Robinson: That’s zero and that is only one small piece okay. Borrow them, you say. of the University Park success story. Matthew Taylor: I don’t know Senior Katie Brown has a if you are going to be doing this in the demanding schedule of classes. film that you want to show later, but what would be really interesting would “I take Sociology, Honours be to hear from you an example of Sociology, Honours Probability what works. So something which Statistics, Honours in Physiology.” you’ve seen, you know, you’ve Every day Antoine has a full described a lot what doesn’t work and load of homework. what is wrong, give us something that will kind of awe-inspire us as to how it “I do a lot of homework at can change. night. I spend like three or four hours working on homework.” RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 17
  • 18. If you think excellent schools different learners and the are only in the wealthy suburbs, think unquestioned belief that every child again. This school is in the middle of can succeed. Worcester’s poorest neighbourhood “We don’t have tracking and yet it produces some of the because that to me is the signal that highest-achieving students in the State. some of you are going to make it By any measure, the students at before the others.” University Park High School should be the ones most likely to fail. Here everyone makes it. 100% of University Park students go on to “About 75% of our kids don’t college. speak English in their homes. We’re about 72% fee reduced lunch, which is “They are at Brown, they are the Federal measure for poverty.” at Tufts, they are at Georgetown.” So how is it that for five years in It is one thing to have high a row not one student has failed the academic standards, it is another to MCAS and more than 80% scored support them. Teachers staff a advanced or proficient? homework centre before and after school and are encouraged to get to “We are a literacy-rich school. know each student well. They read, they write, they think.” “All of my teachers, all of And there are high standards for them, are committed to helping these each and every child. When they arrive kids succeed.” in seventh grade most are reading at a third or fourth grade level. The culture of support includes students. They are expected “And what we do in grade seven to help each other until everyone and eight is get them up to speed, you understands the material. can kind of compare it to boot camp.” “If you look at it, it is like the Then in ninth grade they begin a yeast going inside.” curriculum comparable to that of the finest prep school. “You think the yeast is going inside?” “I always said, if it is good enough for Andover, it is good enough “Because then it is warm and for University Park.” this is cold.” Donna Rodriguez, now a Science teacher, Jodie Bird, consultant on school reform, founded says, “Demanding as it is, she couldn’t University Park in 1997 based on a ask for a better job.” model of accelerated high schools “The kids are great and you around the country. can teach what you love and you can “And those schools have the form relationships with students that mission of students not only graduating engage them.” from high school but having an These eighth-graders are so associates degree at the same time. So engaged they complained when the they graduate from high school with 60 class was over. college credits.” “They were begging me to So what makes this school come after school. Please, please, work? Exciting material that engages please can we reset up that students. Individualised strategies for RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 18
  • 19. experiment, we just want to get some Matthew Taylor: You were more data.” very nice about the RSA and mentioned me a couple of times but I “Pretty Ophelia.” have a confession to make which is “(inaudible) can we make an end that I used to work deep within the of it?” bowels of the New Labour Project. A founding partner of the Sir Ken Robinson: I know school, neighbouring Clark University you did. allows juniors and seniors to take Matthew Taylor: You didn’t classes. If they are accepted here, mention that. tuition is free. Sir Ken Robinson: No. Growing up Reed Powell figured his only hope for college would be Matthew Taylor: No. Can I basketball but after six years of hard ask you a kind of New Labourish work his grades are the ticket to his question, which is, you see a school future. like that and it is absolutely fantastic because it’s got inspirational “Now I’m applying to Princeton leadership. Now, actually the reason and Cornell, the Ivy League Schools, so why Governments, like this like the upper colleges in America.” Government, develop a kind of whole University Park was the only standards agenda and measurement high school in Massachusetts to make agenda and all of that; it is not really Newsweek’s list of the top 100 in to do with the model of learning, very America but that doesn’t surprise these often. In fact they are not really students, they know their school is interested in that. It is to do with the special. model of how do you manage “It’s the cool thing to be smart. schools? It’s the cool thing to take college And it drives from an courses and stuff.” understanding that lots and lots of “The school has a great schools, particularly schools serving community and people bonding very poor areas, are really not very together.” good at all. And so the question for Government is, how can you make “The path of my life with the sure that those schools don’t males in the family was either drugs or continue to fail those parents? gaol, so then this changed it big time and now I’m applying to college.” Last week there was a huge row because Ed Balls said he was University Park students are going to close down schools that chosen in a yearly draw and most didn’t have a plan to get over 30% families feel like they have hit the because no parent should be forced lottery when their children get in and in to send their child to a school that many ways they have. School founder, was going to achieve less than 30%. Donna Rodriguez, now works for Jobs for the Future. That is an organisation So my question for you is, helping to bring education to under- how do you achieve the kind of represented students and University progressive, expansive, creative Park serves as a national model for that education that you want broadly and organisation. not just rely upon kind of inspirational leaders like the one we’ve just heard about, without reverting to those kind RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 19
  • 20. of industrial systems of control and don’t tell you what the place should measurement? look like. You figure it out. Sir Ken Robinson: Well, I And the way they work out if think the problem is exactly the one you are any good, they send people that you describe which is that along who know all about it to see if Governments don’t improve education you are doing it. If you are doing it because they don’t understand it is you are in the guide and if you’re not, based on a model of learning. For as you’re not. And the result of that is long as Governments think that it is that every one of these restaurants is about managing the system more great and they are all different. They efficiently, rather than improving the are different because they use local quality of learning, we’re in a mess. produce, appeal to local markets, local Nothing will improve it. The only thing circumstances and they are that will improve it, is improving the customised. experience of learners and that means And I believe, honestly improving the quality of teachers. Matthew, this is the only answer for I think there is absolutely no the future. We have to recognise that other solution to it. There are the heart of educational improvement management things you can do to make is improving the experience of it better, more congenial. But you see I individual learners and treating each have a comparison here; if you think of school individually and not as a mass. another industry, if you think of You know, there isn’t a kid in catering as an example. There are two the country who will get out of bed models of quality control, or quality wondering what they can do to assurance in the catering business. improve the nation’s reading One of them is standardising; standards. You know, they will get out and that is the model that informs the of bed to improve their reading. growth of the fast food industry. So if It is a very personal business you have a favourite fast food outlet, and the only thing that changes the you know whichever one you go to, needle, that moves the needle, and wherever it happens to be, it will be that is what has been found through exactly what you are expecting and McKinsey and … you look at exactly the same as all the other ones. Singapore, you look at what is It will have the same burger, the same happening in Finland. You look at buns, the same chicken wings; it is all what is happening in this particular guaranteed. It is all horrible but it is park and I’m not, by the way, I hope it guaranteed and it is also contributing to is clear from my saying its about the worst epidemic of diabetes and customising, I’m not saying that obesity in the history of the earth, but University Park is the model we go it’s guaranteed. for. The other model is like the This was a school adapting to Michelin Guide or the Zagat Guide, or its circumstances and meeting the Egon Ronay. Now what they do is challenge it was facing in its context. establish criteria for excellence, very But it achieved these remarkable high standards, much higher than those results by understanding what the of the fast food people. But they don’t local community needed, what was tell you how to do it. They don’t tell bringing these kids down. That every you what to put on the menu. They one of them was capable of don’t tell you who to hire and they RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 20
  • 21. succeeding and having teachers who John Keiran: That was were motivated and inspiring and terrific and it is a related point to the engaging. question Matthew asked about, you know, Governments. You always hear I think that if you try to develop the word education and the word a model of educational improvement Government follows soon afterwards. that leaves out the very means of I have a, I mean I know very little to improvement, then politicians will be honest about this, but I have a kind continue to wonder around looking of a suspicion that actually we are confused because it isn’t about that. It looking slightly in the wrong place and is about improving every child’s maybe parents … I just wondered experience. whether actually parents ironically are The thing about that is, it potentially the block because no sounds like, oh my God, but kids are parent wants their child to be turning up for school every day. The experimented on. good news is that you can get on with However, experimentation is it tomorrow. But it does mean, we set the source of progress as we know out to you in the Gulbenkian Report in from medicine and everything else. I 1990 when I sat in this room, that you just wonder how, whether you know, 20,000 head teachers, properly recognise any of that, whether there motivated, properly trained, properly is any truth and whether there is a resourced, would transform education way of sort of, perhaps the message in five years, and they still would, needs to get through to the voting truthfully. populous rather than the It is why things like the National Government. College for School Leadership are very Libby Davey: I am interested important. It is why training teachers is in the Reggio Project near Bologna, I very important. I was involved in wonder if you’ve heard of that and I Warwick University for twelve years wonder if you could talk to that as a training teachers and it was depressing. model. I believe it to be a profound You know, we kept getting this stuff model for education. through from the National Curriculum, from the training authorities and it was Matthew Taylor: So that is all trying to make education teacher- about the Reggio model in Bologna proof. You know it is like trying to and I will take this gentleman here. make food nutrition free. Like, why do Peter Cook: We met in you do that? Warwick. California has been kind to Sorry, I am sympathising, I am you. My question is about not getting at you Matthew, but … but accountancy. don’t do that! Sir Ken Robinson: What Matthew Taylor: I’ve given it does that mean? What does that up. mean Peter? Sir Ken Robinson: Good, you Peter Cook: Well you said are doing great stuff here by the way. that its better over there. My question is about accountancy, it Matthew Taylor: Well if we relates to parents. I think we are are really sharp we can take two entering an age where the rise of the rounds of questions. number supersedes many decisions. We can measure everything, not RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 21
  • 22. everything we can measure matters. So, having low standards themselves. You given that we can have league tables for need to know your stuff. everything and politicians look at where You need to have pedagogical people are voting to make their skill, you need to be good at this. And decisions about education, how can we thirdly, you need to love doing it. If ward off increasing numeracy in you get that, and I think there are education? I don’t mean for the enough people out there to make it children, I mean for the people who happen, then the thing becomes make decisions based on numbers. transformed. Sir Ken Robinson: You see But it is not going to happen I’m not against matrix, I am not against overnight. It is going to be a standardised testing. What I am against generational shift but we should get is it becoming the point of the exercise. on with it and I think your point about You know, if I go for a medical parents is absolutely right. examination I want some standardised tests, I really do. I want to know what You see parents are, in a way, my cholesterol level is against part of the problem. But the problem everybody else’s. I don’t want it on my is that they haven’t stood back to doctor’s personal scale. What I call look at the situation. They are kind of level orange. I don’t want to know that. driving their kids through these Like against everybody else’s. systems because they think it’s the best thing to do. But in my You need matrix and you need experience, and I speak a lot to big to measure what is in the system so organisations, lots to companies and you can test the health of it. But what to parents, I always get people coming you also have to accept is that some up at the end and saying, “This is my things can’t be measured like that. child you are talking about.” Or “that Some of the most important things was me.” can’t be measured like that. For that you need judgement not just data. I’m a parent and all the parents I know are interested in their child. At the heart of every scientific And they look into their kids eyes and process it is not the data, it is the they know who they are and it judgement you make about it. My worries them increasingly that that is problem is that when Government not being cultivated by the school. policies are transacted into schools kind of remotely through statistical Now I’m saying I think this exercises, the people who are doing changing paradigm is really the work become demoralised because fundamental because we’ve had years they feel the people at the centre don’t and years and years of trying to understand them. And they don’t, very improve the existing one and I think, often. you know, if you keep doing the same thing and getting the same result, do That is the problem. I have something else. In the end education always felt the future of education is to is about individual people learning in hire great teachers. Get the best people groups and in communities and the that you can to go into it. That doesn’t sooner we get that and that at the mean the people with the best degrees heart of this is a diversity of talent and necessarily. To be a teacher you need motivation, it will transform itself. But several things. You need to know your it will do it. stuff. You can’t get high standards among kids being taught by teachers RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 22
  • 23. I have often said, you know, that because you can replicate them, and this agricultural model, that gardeners that is the whole point really. You depend upon, or farmers depend upon don’t go along to an Egon Ronay plants growing successfully. But the restaurant and say, “Well we’ll do one irony in the middle of it is that they of those.” What you take away from can’t make them do it. You know, it are the principles of individualised farmers don’t stick the petals on, attach learning, of group activity, of the roots and paint the damn thing. The motivated teachers, of high standards, plant grows itself. of respecting diversity. The job of a farmer is to Some of the most amazing provide optimum conditions for growth people I know failed at school. I did a and the same thing is true of teaching. If series of workshops a while ago with you provide the conditions, people are John Cleese of Monty Python and transformed by them but if you adopt John said he went from kindergarten some factory farming model and stick to Cambridge and nobody ever people in cages and feed them nitrates, thought he had a sense of humour. He don’t be surprised if they go crazy. That does, doesn’t he? is I think what is happening. I really Paul McCartney is in the new profoundly believe it. book we’re doing. He went through We have to start where the the whole of his time at school in problem is. Liverpool and nobody thought he had any musical talent. Well he does, Matthew Taylor: Tell us doesn’t he? about Bologna. Apparently their music teacher Sir Ken Robinson: Well you had George Harrison and Paul might want to say, Reggio Emilio is a McCartney in the same class and school in Bologna. It is an elementary didn’t spot any talent. Elvis Presley school, kindergarten, and it is based on wasn’t allowed in the Glee Club at his the premise that it takes a village to school because they said he’d ruin raise a child so they’ve got the whole their sound. Elvis, I mean we know village involved. But it is based on the what great heights the Glee Club sort of principles that Montessori went on to one they’d chucked him would approve of, I think and Freeble out but … and the other great reformers. It is about learning through play, through But I am saying individual personal growth, through community talent is wonderfully diverse and if projects and so on. you reach people it is extraordinary what comes. And of course, some of the most successful projects like Reggio, Before we are done I really that’s been going for years, some of the would like to show you a few minutes work you see going on in Scandinavia, I of this. I only saw it today but I really mean I have this big debate about it. think you should see it. It is a fantastic Kids that are left to play for a while and video of a company called Dance learn imaginatively end up much more United who are working … do any of motivated to carry on learning than you know who this company is? Given kids that have had it taken away from that dance is down the bottom end of them. the food chain, these are people working with young offenders who I I think it is really worth, it pays think … Matthew was telling me you to look at models like Reggio, not RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 23
  • 24. earlier about the new approach to Changing the learning funding social welfare, which I think is experience and therefore having to brilliant as you describe it. change the teaching experience too is also very much what we are about. This is part of a, I think an Einstein’s definition of insanity was enlightened view of sentencing where doing the same thing over and over kids are in fact sentenced to dance for again and expecting a different result. 30 hours and I think it is a fantastic It seems to me we have been trying in thing. There are these young offenders various sorts of ways and policy to say who are like hard-bitten, hard-core this sort of stuff and do the same kids, who do this intensive twelve-week thing over and over again and of programme of contemporary dance and course we are not getting a different you will be amazed at the change in result. them. The scepticism of their parents, of their friends, of themselves, but they Like you we certainly believe come out different people. For those of you have to shift a paradigm and if you you who know the company, it is true are going to shift a paradigm, isn’t it, if you know the company. paradigms don’t shift through intellectual argument. They shift It is a fantastic thing and I really through communication and we are in would like you to see it because it the communication revolution. illustrates moving right back to the beginning, what happens if you get It has been a great privilege for through to people, make demands of Edge to work with the RSA and them, give them an opportunity to support these five lectures and a demonstrate what they can do and particular privilege to be at this last connect to their talent. Then you get one where we have, in my view, the transformation, that’s the paradigm. greatest communicator in this area and that is what it will need to change Matthew Taylor: Now we are things. So, thank you for that. going to do three things very quickly before we invite you to join us for a It has also Matthew and Alex drink. Firstly, I am going to ask Andy Lucas and all of the lecture team, been Powell from Edge, Edge have supported a great pleasure working with you this whole series of lecture. I think over these five things, the RSA is a some of you have been to many of the vital organisation. We love working in lectures and we are finishing on a high partnership with you and we intend to point with Ken’s lecture. Andy is going continue and to develop the moves to say a few words about Edge and that Sir Ken talked about or indeed their work. the movement. So, thank you. Andy Powell: Do you know it Matthew Taylor: Finally I is humbling? I found that about you just wanted to say a couple of things humbling, connecting people with their before I ask you to thank Ken one last true talent, helping people discover time, about the work that the RSA is what they love, what they are good at, doing. I talked about ‘Opening Minds’ who they want to be, what their earlier on, which is the curriculum element is, all of this stuff that there based upon the work that you were isn’t just an academic route that people talking about on capabilities-based have different interests and talents are curriculum. absolutely things that at Edge we are We are also working on a committed to. I just wish I could put it whole set of schools that are as well as you. RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 24
  • 25. ‘Opening Minds’ on our new areas of So it is very simple and I can innovation, we are looking at teaching just tell you two of the principles. and learning. We are looking at how One is, the first one is, that the most every school can be an innovative important objective of education is school. So how every school has a that children should love learning and story about its own innovation and we to come out of school wanting to are looking at how you can take carry on learning throughout life. schools without boundaries. So how we Number one. can talk about the engagement of Another one is that teaching parents and communities within schools should be a creative profession in and we are working with schools to which we give teachers the autonomy develop their own innovations in those and the space to develop their own areas. professionalism. So these are just two We are working with of the principles. Manchester on the idea of a curriculum We are working with a whole much more embedded in place. So how set of institutions, including Edge, to could you get stakeholders in develop this charter, to publish it and Manchester to be engaged? So that to really try to mobilise a huge there is health being taught in the constituency of parents, of teachers school Local Health Authorities and of pupils, working in networks involved in helping design. To have a throughout the country, banging on sense of ownership so the curriculum is the doors of every school and saying, not a secret thing hidden away in the “Look what we could do. Look what school but it is a thing which is owned is possible.” by everybody in the city. So that is the RSA’s work And then finally in a few months going forward. A lot of it is really time we are hoping to launch what we coming from the work you’ve done are calling a Progressive Education yourself here. It has been an Charter because one of the things we enormous privilege to have you here think Ken, is when you talk to parents this evening. If you want to watch they have two films playing in their Ken’s lecture again, it will soon be head. One of the films is of education available on our website but it won’t as you’ve described it, which they be as good as seeing the man in the would really like their children to have, flesh, so can I ask you to thank Ken to really enjoy their education, to come Robinson. out of school buzzing with enthusiasm. But there is another film, which is basically, I had a horrible time so my children should too. When things go wrong in schools they are as apt to listen to the kind of Chris Woodhead analysis of what is going wrong as they are to listen to the Ken Robinson analysis. So what we are trying to do is to produce a set of very simple principles and seek to mobilise what we thing is a kind of silent majority of parents who do want their children to enjoy learning. RSA | RSA Edge Lecture: Changing Paradigms| 316th June 2008 Page 25