Cultivating Creativity (ShiftEd21 #13)

I’m trying to keep the time required for most of the Shift Ed 21 resources very short, but this video of Ken Robinson talking about how schools kill creativity has been so widely viewed and influential that it is well worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch it. (It also happens to be very entertaining, so the 20 minutes go quickly!)

I don’t necessarily believe that schools “kill” creativity – clearly many creative people emerge from our schools, whatever their problems. Nor do I think the average teacher is out to dampen the creative impulses of students. Nonetheless – as we argue in the book – there is a great deal about how school is structured, both physically and intellectually, that can’t help but dampen creativity. Implicit in Robinson’s talk is the idea we need creativity now more than ever, given the challenges we face and the unpredictability of the future. As he puts it:

I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children.

I couldn’t agree more.


Integrating with the Community (ShiftEd21 #12)

As we note in Shift Ed, schools more often than not are isolated structures that stand apart from the community. They sit empty most evenings and weekends, and don’t allow for much interactions between kids and the communities in which they live. A number of groups are trying to change that by promoting schools that – as the Coalition for Community Schools Web site puts it – “are centers of the community and are open to everyone – all day, every day, evenings and weekends.” We encourage you to visit the coalition’s site and explore the links to community schools across the country.

Outside the Box (ShiftEd21: #11)

For this latest installment of the Shift Ed 21, I’d like to touch on a major theme of Shift Ed – that schools need to be designed in ways that better facilitate learning, creativity, and integration with communities. Seeing is believing on this one, so I encourage you to visit the interactive map maintained by [Read Full Post]

Learning and the Brain (ShiftEd21: #10)

John Medina writes in Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School that Our schools are designed so that most real learning has to occur at home. This would be funny if it weren’t so harmful. Blame it on the fact that brain scientists rarely have a conversation with teachers [Read Full Post]

Rethinking the Calendar (ShiftEd21: #9)

While research about the real impact of year-round schooling – and potentially adding days to the calendar – is still somewhat limited and often contradictory, the idea has gained a lot of momentum over the past several years. Notably, President Obama is among its vocal advocates. In Shift Ed, we argue in favor of year-round [Read Full Post]

What We Know Works (ShiftEd21: #8)

The history of “reforming” schools is peppered with trends and gimmicks. These come and go while the problems remain. One of the key points we make in Shift Ed, however, is that we already know a great deal about what works in K-12 education. We just don’t do a thorough, consistent job of applying our [Read Full Post]