Sir Ken Robinson: Educating the Heart and Mind

In August, Sir Ken Robinson returned to Vancouver for Educating the Heart and Mind. It was an opportunity for Sir Ken to share some of the insights from his many years working towards a revolution in education.

We are all graced with an extraordinary amount of potential, said Sir Ken. And it’s the role of education to allow us to tap into that potential. This was an underlying theme of the evening.

“To be born at all is a miracle,” Sir Ken quoted the Dalai Lama. “So what are you going to do with this life?”

Sir Ken warned the audience that we are approaching a new climate crisis. As the world’s natural resources continue to be depleted by humankind, there is also the danger of losing our human resources.

While the world’s population reaches closer and closer to seven billion people, fewer and fewer are realizing their true potential. And the evidence, as Sir Ken pointed out, is everywhere. Dropout rates and disaffection rates in school are on the rise. Education is not engaging.

Why is this? Sir Ken argued that we have entered the fast food era of education.

“I think that as education becomes more and more standardized, it’s become more like the fast food model,” he said. A child essentially receives the same education as every other child even though it may not be what that child needs, let alone prefers.

“Education should be built on diversity not conformity,” Sir Ken said.  And when children don’t conform, they shouldn’t necessarily be deemed to be the problem, rather than model of education.

Along with a focus on conformity, Sir Ken argued that education also has an unhealthy focus on the external. We are taught so much about the outside world, yet are encouraged so rarely to engage in our own inner world.

“What children desperately need is time to look inward and to explore their inner space,” Sir Ken said. This leads to children connecting with themselves and in turn, through empathy, being able to connect with others.

And while learning about the external world is certainly important, Sir Ken argues there needs to be a “balance between knowing and feeling.”

“All of these things get lost in an industrialized, homogenized, atomized system of education," he said.
"And the price couldn’t be higher.”