Lee’s Blog

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Welcome to my blog. I started this blog as I wanted to share my experiences and thoughts about teaching and everything that surrounds it. The blog will focus on that, but there may be some other topics that I write about, if I find them interesting.

I hope you enjoy reading them.


9th March 2021

This first blog post was inspired by a TED Talk I watched a long time ago, but I keep coming back to it over and over again in class. The TED talk is not exactly a secret, in fact it is one of the most watched on TED. Of course, I am talking about the video “How schools kill creativity” by Sir Ken Robinson (I will embed the video at the end of the blog).

So why this video? There are two main reasons. Firstly, the topic is something which is talked about so often, creativity. How can we be more creative or why are we not so creative? The answer, according to Sir Ken Robinson, is that schools are in fact killing that creativity from a young age. He explains the story of a girl who could not keep still in class and now runs a successful ballet company and how nowadays, she would most likely be diagnosed with ADHD and given medication. He goes on to tell personal anecdotes which relate to the topic, and with which the audience can relate to. Sir Ken Robinson has also written books about the topic of creativity in schools and what you can do as a parent, such as “Creative Schools: Revolutionizing Education from the Ground Up” and “You, Your Child, and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education”. Both are worthwhile reading.

So, is it the fault of schools? Well, that is too simple. The question should be, what is the purpose of education? Is it purely for the economic interests of a country or is it to advance and develop the personal interests of a person? Is it both? Can that be done? I will let you think about that for now.

Reflecting on my own experience in school, it was more about getting through a topic so a box could be ticked and segregating the brighter students from those who needed more help or were considered disruptive, rather than trying to engage each student with creative lessons. It sounds very negative, but looking back, that was how it was, or at least how I see it now. Not that this is the fault of the individual teacher. It is the system itself that is the issue, the teacher is as much a victim as the student. Of course, one experience does not mean all experiences were like this. However, when I discuss this with students and adult learners, whose backgrounds all differ, my own reflections are often echoed, and more examples are given. Therefore, you could say there is likely to be some substance in it.     

The second reason why I wrote about this video is how the topic is presented. The style of Sir Ken Robinson’s presenting makes you laugh, think of your own time at school and listen to the serious point behind the talk. It is why I always recommend this talk to my students; it combines everything I feel a good talk should have, fun, seriousness and it makes you think. Sir Ken Robinson uses anecdotes to do just that. To use a fishing analogy, the anecdote hooks you, which he uses to reel you in by making his point, before casting you out, only for you to be hooked again and again. He uses pauses to great effect in this process. You are left waiting on every word.  

It shows that a talk does not have to be serious, even if the topic itself is. You can use humour, anecdotes, and jokes to great effect. Keeping your audience’s attention is what is key, there is no point in having the knowledge and wisdom, if nobody is listening to it. If Sir Ken Robinson would have started his talk by giving you the structure and telling you what he was covering, I doubt the audience would have paid much attention.  Of course, you need more than humour, anecdotes and jokes, but it is a good start.

But do not take it from me, see for yourself. Feel free to comment on the blog and let me know what you thought about the video.