Educating for the Future. First in a series

“Everyone is born with immense talents and soaring imaginative potential” Sir Ken Robinson began his talk at New Jersey Educators Association NJEA annual meeting in Atlantic City November 4-5. One only has to look at babies and young children who regard their worlds with awe and wonder and indefatigable energy. Then by middle school something saps that energy and students are less charged about learning about their world. What happened? The problem, according to Robinson, is a loss of heart in the system: education is weighted down by too many layers: federal and local government, administrative hierarchy and so on. Getting back to the heart of education—the teacher/student relationship—is needed in order to get back to basics. Robinson sees three things needed to make that happen:

1. The new model must be transformational. Robinson believes that policy makers are trying to improve an old model that needs to be retired because it doesn’t suit our time of revolution. The old industrial model of education of turning out factory workers to produce widgets is obsolete in the new knowledge and creativity economy.

2. The global population is growing exponentially requiring the earth to support more people than in the entire history of mankind and it will require solutions that can only be supplied by everyone being educated not just 60%. The US has currently a 40% high school drop out rate.

3. We need to create human flourishing by teaching the power of the imagination whereby people can live in possibilities. Standardizing education is not the way, setting high standards is. Inspire students—all people—to find and celebrate their talents.

Robinson ended with a colorful metaphor to represent the enormous potential in each and every child waiting to blossom: the stark arid landscape of The Death Valley vast wasteland was transformed by an unexpected rainfall of six inches in 2005 bringing to life wildflower seeds that had lay dormant under the arid sand for more than 50 years. Now riotous color fields of golden yellows, deep blues and violets and pinks filled the valley with the black basalt mountains providing a dramatic backdrop to a masterpiece.
Photo credit: Ashford Mill and Jubilee Pass area by Ranger Alan Vanvalkenburg. See more photos at

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