Photo: Ying Ang for The New York Times
In you haven’t heard, a giant in the field of education in the Internet era has died. It was about a month ago but it took time to have his obituary in the New York Times. Since he didn’t die of Covid-19 he wasn’t at the front of the line, but I am glad they did run it finally.
Most people probably don’t know there was a giant in education in the internet era, or if they do, they would think it was Sal Kahn. (He’s alive, no problem.) But it was Ken Robinson who gave the MOST downloaded TED talk ever – 67 million is a lot – and it says a lot about him and his amazing life.
His talk resonated with people mostly, I think, because he talked about education that most people never had, but would have wanted. The education where dance takes as much time as dance, as he put forth.
With all that popularity and attention, you have to wonder, how much is he influencing schools, systems, teaching, and education around the world?
My estimation is that he has influenced the creation of the ed tech universe more than the brick and mortar school world. The efforts and motivations for change in brick and mortar have been fleeting, if existing at all. The strongest movements for change have been the well-funded, ideologically-based but business-oriented cash grabs by the Betsy De Vos crowd. Other movements for changes in classroom teaching have been from the ground troops themselves – teachers – a significantly creative and innovative population. They have been infiltrating the classrooms of the USA with clever innovations below the radar of the school boards and politicians for years. They have been the downloaders of the Ken Robinson TED talks taking his articulation of ideas they have felt in their bones for years and injecting them into the interstices of public school education.
So, if you haven’t done it, watch Ken Robinson’s TED talk. If you have been to any school anywhere you are likely to smile, nod, get up, and want to do something by the time it is over; sometimes before it is over. He recognized and articulated the learning brain and the connection of that to the limbs and our internal gyroscope that wants to be used.
Look at the ed tech world and websites and apps like WorldlyXP, Kahn Academy, Coursera, DuoLingo, and hundreds more that are taking education out of the schools and putting into the hands of the students. That’s where the change is taking place the strongest and we’re looking for a generation, soon, of students, parents, or both, that say “enough” to structure, hierarchy, and middle management decision-making in schools and instead create the heart and hearth of society around equity, creativity, and personal growth in learning.
Keep an eye out for this – or make it happen yourself.