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Expert Speaks About America's Need for Change in Education System

Expert Speaks About America's Need for Change in Education System

In an interview with The Washington Post, Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in education for over 40 years, discusses his new book,"Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That's Changing Education" and his belief that America's education system needs to move away from standardization and towards creative license in the classroom.

Robinson became most well known in the education world after his 2006 TED Talk "How School Kills Creativity," and has been speaking about his belief in a needed emphasis on personalized instruction ever since.

Though not completely against the Common Core as he understands the need for guidelines, Robinson believes the rigidity of it harms everyone involved. "It’s not the fact of it. It’s the nature of it — it’s the fact that testing has become the predominant culture in schools. It’s taking multiple tests all the time. They reel from one test in preparation to the next test. Jobs are on the line," he said, according to The Washington Post article.

From Robinson's experience, he has an idea about what works in education systems. "On the one hand is that education should be about helping kids discover talents and interests that lie within them. I think that is absolutely critical. Secondly it should be about helping them understand the world around them so they can become compassionate and productive citizens," he said.

Robinson compares Finland and the United States to emphasize his point. 40 years ago, when the Reagan administration found "A Nation at Risk" and sought to fix under-performance, Finland was "in the doldrums, too" according to Robinson.

"So America and Finland started out on the same journey, roughly at the same time, but they have got to completely different places. Finland has a negligible dropout rate [and is] consistently at the top of these international league tables. They have no standardized tests, with one exception, the end-of-school exam. They don’t prescribe in detail what has to be taught in schools," he said.

Robinson argues that what Finland has done right and American has overlooked is the importance of individualization in the classroom. Predicting criticism that America and Finland are incomparable due to the vast difference in size, he says "Education in America is organized at the state level, really. There are 30 states in America equal to or smaller than Finland … so it’s the principles that you can apply and cross over," according to the article.

Education as he sees it has become a "strategic issue" for governments and therefore the purpose has gotten lost. As a parent, when he considers what he wants from his children's education, he says: " By the time they are educated I want them to come out knowing what they are personally good at and interested in, what their strengths are and where they might like to go after school. I want them to feel confident that they can face the challenges that life will throw at them and they can begin to make their way to become productive members of the community.

Largely, he wants the process to be understood as what it is, a human one. "It’s well intentioned to raise standards, but the mistake it makes is that it fails to recognize that education is not a mechanical impersonal process that can improved by tweaking standards and regularly testing. … It’s a human process," he said, according to the article.

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

04/22/2015

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