“Creative Schools” by Ken Robinson

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Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education, Sir Ken Robinson, with Lou Arnica, Penguin Books, 2016, 320p.

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From the author of The Element and speaker of the world renowned TedTalk Do Schools Kill Creativity? Sir Ken Robinson, “Creative Schools” goes a little further in defining the school of the 21st century. An enjoyable, thoughts provoking and inspiring read, Robinson’s most recent book offers a variety of solutions to lead us toward healthier, happier, more connected and more adapted schools. While this is not strictly an article on foreign language learning, I though it would be great to share my impression of Creative Schools with you. So, here we go…

The Element

6594727When I read “The Element”, after it was published in 2009, I was left with a strange feeling: on one hand I was thrilled to hear about people following their dreams, about doing things that they were talented at, without fear of failure, and about considering the many facettes of a kid to really help him or her blossom as an adult. But on the other hand, I felt that through the many critics that the authors addressed to the school system in place, he failed to offer practical solutions to correct it, to reinvent it. Creativity was center in Robinson speeches and writing, especially in “The Element”, but I couldn’t envision how to apply it to my everyday teaching. Inspired to change my life as a teacher, I felt I needed a direction. And that’s exactly what Robinson is offering in his recent book: a new way.

A Grassroots Revolution

Like in “The Element”, Robinson spends a lot of time presenting and describing schools that break free (to some extent) of the standardised educational model. Mainly American and British, the schools, administrators and teachers that he presents have one thing in common: they all put the student at the very center of their effort, redefining their educational model on the way. Reading about teachers that use Shakespeare to teach their curriculum, or of principals that put sports at the heart of their schooling is truly inspiring. The book acts as an incentive to do good in the classroom and out. It offers a model to follow. In that regard, “Creative Schools” ressembles Robinson previous book, but where it distinguishes itself from its predecessor is in offering a solution, a redefinition of the school model.

“Do Schools Kill Creativity” – Sir Ken Robinson – TedTalk

Redefining schools

One of the first things that Ken Robinson establishes in his book are the basic purposes of education. He identifies four of them: economic, cultural, social and personal. To that, he adds the “Eight C” core competencies:

  • Curiosity
    • The ability to ask questions and explore how the world works
  • Creativity
    • The ability to generate new ideas and to apply the in practice
  • Criticism
    • The ability to analyze information and ideas and to form reasoned arguments and judgments
  • Communication
    • The ability to express thoughts and feelings clearly and confidently in a range of media and forms
  • Collaboration
    • The ability to work constructively with others
  • Compassion
    • The ability to empathize with others and to act accordingly
  • Composure
    • The ability to connect with the inner life of feeling and develop a sense of personal harmony and balance
  • Citizenship
    • The ability to engage constructively with society and to participate in the process that sustain it

Robinson regrets that schools nowadays put to much emphasis on literacy and mathematics, to the detriment of other subject, like art or P.E. He suggests that schools should be entered around Six key disciplines:

  • Arts
    • Music, dance, visual arts, drama
  • Humanities
    • History, study of languages, philosophy, religious education, geography, social studies
  • Language Arts
    • Oracy, literacy, literature
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Education
  • Sciences
    • Natural sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, astronomy
    • Social sciences: psychology, sociology, economics

 

“How to Escape Education’s Death Valley” – Sir Ken Robinson – Ted Talk

Conclusion

At the very center of Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education is the idea that creativity should be taught at school. Not only in the arts, but everywhere. Building a strong case to value the teachers and to listen to the many aspects of the student life, Robinson inspires and open the door a little more to education bring future (or at least, that’s what I’d like to think). A great read for educators, it should also be on every parent wish list for the coming holiday season. An invitation to change the school system, “Creative school” should be on every bookshelf.

Bonne lecture!

J.

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