I‘ve watched hundreds of TED Talks over the years. It‘s fair to say I‘m an addict. But this particular Talk from Sir Ken Robinson is one of my top favorites. I sometimes start a new class by having my students watch this with me. It always leads to an interesting discussion.
Why this strikes a chord with me So Much
When I was in third grade, my schoolteacher set me to the back of the classroom, because she didn‘t think I was worth her time. To be fair, she was alone in a classroom of over 50 kids. So the practical thing – the only thing – for her to do was to prioritize the hopefuls from the kids like me.
She pulled my mother aside and informed her that I had a learning disability, that I was mentally retarded and that I should be in a special school.
My mother, for her part, had me tested. I remember this time of my life; there were days and days of taking all sorts of tests administered by all sorts of doctors. After it all, after blood tests and urine tests and brain scans and hearing tests and blot tests and block tests and whatever else they could throw at me, the doctors realized I needed glasses.
Having been sent to the back of the class, I couldn‘t read the chalkboard. I didn‘t realize that other people saw more than I did. I just thought what the teacher thought: that I was slow. Too slow. As an adult, I took an online IQ Tests and discovered I’m well above average.
I‘ve never forgotten that time and how it made me feel, the feeling I was too stupid to bother teaching. Now, I am a teacher – for kids and adults. I believe very strongly: no one is unteachable.
We don‘t need to be great at everything; we just need our natural curiosity to be fostered and our creativity encouraged. From teachers, we need help figuring out how we learn best.
If someone is having a hard time doing something, it is because they haven‘t yet learned how they learn best. Not everyone learns by writing, which is my way. Some need to move in order to learn, or to build something, or to see a visual. Some learn best by listening – which isn‘t me at all, but it is my daughter.
It‘s all valid, and Ken Robinson‘s Talk is a sort of call to action. We should not teach the same way as we have been teaching. Much more is needed… creativity.