WilliamChilds
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creativity column

Recess is over. It's time to reform our educational system.

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Sir Ken Robinson is my hero. He's a visionary cultural leader, who was instrumental in leading the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and how it affects the economy. His TED talk titled, "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" has been viewed over 44 million times. It's currently the most viewed talk on TED.com. 

This past April, Sir Ken Robinson gave a talk at Zoellner Arts Center on the campus of Lehigh University and judging by the size of the crowd in attendance; I'd say his movement to reform education here in America is gaining serious momentum.

He's challenging the system by which we educate our children by advocating that we cultivate creativity as a prime source for altering the paradigm. He believes that we need to stop teaching our kids to be good workers and teach them to be creative thinkers. The talk was titled, ‘Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.' 

"The problem is not the teachers or the administrators. The problem is the system in which they are forced to work. It's not that students don't enjoy learning. It's that the current educational system doesn't resonate with them." Robinson explained. 

What happens if a student gets to high school and they haven't discovered their passion? The current system isn't designed to help students find their true calling, and I think that's unfortunate. Which is why I think good teachers are invaluable, because they can inspire, coach, motivate and in most cases, be the catalyst that helps put a student a path to future success. 

I will never forget what happened to me during my 4th-grade year at the Herbst School in Allentown. My teacher, Mrs. Bachman, noticed that my grades had slipped. So, she arranged for a parent teacher conference and shared her concerns with my mother. I distinctly remember being horrified and not prepared for what happened next. Mrs. Bachman strongly urged that my mom remove me from the basketball team until my grades improved. Boy, was I angry with Mrs. Bachman for suggesting that, not to mention my mother for following her instructions to the letter. I resented it at the time, but her suggestion worked, and my grades improved. 

I think education, like any business today, needs to be constantly looking for ways to improve, innovate or be more nimble in how they deal with change. It's time to put the power back into the teacher's hands where it belongs.  

Robinson remarked that he'd been impressed with the hundreds of teachers he's met in his travels around the country and the world. He believes there is no higher calling than teaching and views it as a noble profession of which he has the utmost respect. 

He ended his talk with this, "There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools. Their task is to educate their students so they can face the future. We may not see that future, but they will, and a teacher's job is to help them make something out of it."

William Childs