Education, creativity, life and death by Angela Caldin

Sir Ken Robinson 1950-2020

I was sad to see that Sir Ken Robinson, educationalist, author and speaker, had died on 21 August 2020. One of his core beliefs was that education should encourage creativity rather than stifle it and his career was focussed on unlocking the creative energy of both people and organisations. I remember a few years ago watching his TED talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ and finding it both inspirational and funny. Apparently, Sir Ken was the most watched speaker in TED’s history and this talk was viewed online over 60 million times and seen by an estimated 380 million people in 160 countries. If you haven’t watched it already, I do recommend it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY

 

Here are just a few of the interesting things he said during the course of his career:

“If all you had was academic ability, you wouldn’t have been able to get out of bed this morning. In fact, there wouldn’t have been a bed to get out of. No one could have made one. You could have written about the possibility of one, but not have constructed it.”

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

“Very many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of.”

“We have sold ourselves into a fast food model of education, and it’s impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.”

Copernicus, who put the sun at the centre of the cosmos.

“Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler did not solve an old problem, they asked a new question, and in doing so they changed the whole basis on which the old questions had been framed.”

Life and death

If you have a look at his Wikipedia entry, you’ll see that he led a rich, full life and achieved a great deal. I notice that he was born in 1950, so he must have been 70 when he died. It always makes me stop and think when I realise that, when somebody died, they were younger than me. It’s a mixture of relief that I’m still here at 73 and concern about how many more years I might have. My mother died at 89, so maybe I have 16 more years to look forward to, or maybe I’ll be carried off by illness, accident or disaster.

A victim gives evidence at the sentencing hearing for the Christchurch mosque gunman.

It’s all completely random. One moment you can be at Friday prayers in the mosque with family and friends and the next you’re lying in a pool of blood, shot down by a gunman with a grudge. One moment you can be getting into your car with your three children on the back seat and the next you’ve been shot in the back by a policeman, leaving you paralysed. One moment you can be talking on the phone to your father from your remote cabin and the next you’ve been killed by a bear.

What can we do in the face of such disaster? Look after each other, nurture our own and others’ talents, encourage each other and, as Jacinda says, be kind. Not always easy, but we can work at it.

2 Comments on “Education, creativity, life and death by Angela Caldin

  1. Angela, I heard him talk at a business convention in Prague, years ago and was very impressed.
    The anecdote I remember, he was there on behalf of a US company, was that a thousand years is not a long time in Europe. He mentioned driving round Los Angeles and hearing a company boasting that it had served the area for”nearly half a decade”. He also mentioned Chou En Lai, the Chinese Prime Minister in the 1950s. He was asked by a journalist what effect the French Revolution had on China. He considered the question, then said: “It is too early to say”. Different attitudes to time.

    • So nice to have your comment David! It’s good to know that someone actually reads the blog from time to time.

      We have a similar situation here in NZ where being in business for thirty or forty years is considered a long time! It all depends on your perspective, as you say. Angela xx

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