An interview with Sir Ken Robinson starts with the question “Do schools kill talents?”. I could not help seeing a parallel between what he was saying about schools and leadership in organisations.
He thinks “talents are like the earths natural resources…they may be there, but you may never discover them”.
He sets out a number of arguments about how schools ignore children’s talents, including the following:
Schools focus narrowing on academic ability and in the process ignore other talents. They do not expose these hidden talents – and the child might never discover them. I know some organisations put people in jobs that do not allow them to express and grow their true talents – everyone misses out.
If innovation is putting good ideas into practice, our schools are failing. The way they schedule classes around subjects undermines any possibility of children developing, exploring and putting good ideas into practice. They go from one subject to the next every 50 minutes or so – having to down tools, change tools, re-tool – there is no way they can get their teeth into a project. Re-organising schools around tasks or projects that matter instead of subject would result in a very different dynamic. Imagine what might be possible if health and aged care were re-organised around the person in care? Or around a big improvement project?
The problems that results from the traditional approach to education are:
- Creating a “dead culture of standardisation”
- Depression, disengagement; drugs to keep them switched on
- The problem with data becoming the purpose of the exercise rather than simply an indicator of the problem
He asks us to imagine if we ran our business like this. And I ask you “Is your organisation running like this?”
In essence Sir Ken is fighting for person-centred education – what are you fighting for?