Sir Ken Robinson and the Complexities of Education

This is a lengthy talk that is full of great ideas. I would do it injustice to try and summarize it into a couple of paragraphs. I highly recommend watching the whole thing. Very enlightening.

I would like to comment on a couple of points he raises. I love the fact that he is starting to use the language of complexity.

19:41 - Education is not linear, it is what is sometimes called a complex adaptive system

Yes, it is. The field of Complexity science, Chaos theory, and fractal geometry are full of ideas and metaphors for learning and education. Yet, we can take it one step farther. If Education is a complex adaptive system, then would it also make sense to say that learning is also a complex adaptive system? And a classroom of students (a collective) is also a system in and of itself? There is a great deal of academic research (both theory and practical) based around these ideas.

23:34 - A better word for subjects is disciplines.

Knowledge is dynamic, not static. Back to the language of complexity. A classroom is an ecosystem. This needs to be dominant metaphor of education in the 21st century.

25:11 - We teach children in groups, but not as groups.

Focus on the group as a complex adaptive system. The class is a collective of learners, which is capable of more than the sum of its individual parts.

I have been a fan of Sir Ken since I saw his famous TEDtalk so many years ago. It is great to see that he is now speaking the language of complexity. I believe it is a powerful metaphor for education.


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