Is Our Education System Failing Us?

This past summer Tasra and I watched a humorous and informative Ted video of Sir Ken Robinson, acclaimed author of “The Element.” In it he addresses the issue: is education killing creativity. Before you read the rest of this post, I encourage you to watch it now. I promise you won’t be sorry. You’ll be surprised at how clever and funny this Brit is. After watching it, come back here and finish up.

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In case you had no time to watch the video, here were the key points I took away:

  • All kids have tremendous talent.
  • Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with same same status.
  • We’re educating kids for a world we have no idea will look like.
  • If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything creative.
  • We’re educating people out of their creative capacity.
  • There were no public education systems before the 19th century. They were all created to meet the needs of industrialism.
  • Thousands of highly talented people around the world think they are not because what they are truly good at was not value at school, or actually stigmatized.

Sir Ken is not the only acclaimed author/speaker/expert who thinks like this. Both best-selling authors Seth Godin and Michael Port have made similar sentiments regarding education’s inability to foster true talent. So what is a parent to do?

We’ve decided to home school our kids. Our 16 year old daughter has aspirations of becoming a singer/songwriter, so her schooling is geared towards enhancing those skills. She still gets the basics she needs, but we’re not going to invest a lot of time teaching her advanced calculus or quantum mechanics and the metaphysical dynamics of quarks. Our 6 year old has some mad Lego building skills that shows a clear propensity towards creative problem-solving and/or engineering. We are giving him the space to excel in that area. He eats up books and videos about vehicles (like Mighty Machines).

I know that home schooling isn’t for everyone. So if it’s not for you, and you don’t have the funds for private education, here are some suggestions to help foster your child’s true creative talent:

  • Look for signs of intuitive talent. It could be anything. Singing. Dancing. Writing.
  • Encourage the development of that talent. Get books from the library. Add DVDs to your Netflix queue. Enroll them in extracurricular classes.
  • Trust your instincts. If there’s something going on at your school that’s having an effect on your child, trust your parental instincts. Teachers have it so hard nowadays (I know. My wife was a middle school teacher for over five years). If you’re a tired, underpaid teacher managing a kid of 30+ students, you’re only human. It will get to you, and that could affect the education of the kids in your class.

A “Foreign” Student’s Take on the American Education System

Here’s another video addressing this issue. This time we hear from the insightful, and slightly comical commentary from a “foreign” student.

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7 thoughts on “Is Our Education System Failing Us?

  1. Good golly Ron that’s so right on – thanks for sharing. I’m blessed with two wonderful children who are not only ‘book smart’ but they’re creative as heck. My oldest is a wonderful artist and is thriving in a school that encourages her (tho they really are pushing college and math etc like in the TED talk). My youngest is also a dancer and we’re thrilled that she’s continuing to express herself thru dance.

  2. Right on Ron. I was homeschooled and my parents allowed me to pursue my passion for all things videography, in addition to studying the fundamental subjects. Being able to experiment with creating films while still in high school helped me to figure out that this was definitely an area that God had gifted me in. I graduated from high school knowing what I wanted to do in life. I’m so thankful to have been blessed with wise and supportive parents.

    Thanks for the post! Gotta love Sir Ken and his Brit sense of humor.

  3. I’ve already been seriously considering homeschooling. I honestly don’t know if I’M up for the responsibility myself though. It’s daunting, that’s for sure. Though I have some friends whose kids are coming out of their high school years and headed toward college after they were homeschooled and they’re some of the brightest kids I’ve ever met in my life, well-versed and with SUCH a rounded education…
    My wife has an education background like yours, but she has the steady full-time job while I do video production from home. And she still hopes that public schools could be right for our kids. I’d LOVE to think so…I just don’t.
    Needless to say this post is one I think that should be seen by everyone with kids. Thanks for sharing Ron!

    1. There are quite a bit of homeschool curricula out there that’s practically like plug and play. They come in varying degrees. Also depends on the ages of your kids. The older they are, the more self-directed they can be. If you do go down that route, be sure to look into homeschool groups in your area. These provide extracurricular activities and opportunities for parents and kids to make new friends.

      1. Thanks Ron. I’ve already touched base with a friend who homeschooled her kids K-12. She’s amazing, and they are turning into some amazing people. My kids are 3 years old and 5 months old. I’ve ALWAYS planned on sending them to public schools. It’s where I went. It’s what I know. But this (and a few years worth of prior research) are truly turning the tides on that notion. I have another year or two where I’ll be considering it. Thanks again!

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