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← Sir Ken Robinson - Changing Paradigms

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson will ask how do we make change happen in education and how do we make it last?

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Showing Revision 19 created 10/17/2013 by zeitgeisthungary.

  1. (Vision - Tomorrow's ideas, Today)
  2. (Sir Ken Robinson "Changing Paradigms" - recipient of the 2008 RSA Benjamin Franklin Medal)
  3. Ken Robinson: Thank you very much. Were you surprised when it was actually me who got the medal?
  4. Were you? You could feel the tension building, couldn't you? "Who will it be?"
  5. Thank you. I am genuinely humbled to have this award.
  6. I was thinking earlier that being humbled isn't a normal feeling, is it?
  7. I don't often feel humbled - disparaged, humiliated, you know, put down
  8. But humbled is a rather old feeling, isn't it? It's not a modern emotion.
  9. But I do feel it, and particularly to have this award in the name of Benjamin Franklin
  10. who was a most remarkable man. He lived nearby, in Craven street. The house is a few minutes away
  11. and I really recommend you go and take a look at it. It has just been renovated.
  12. It's a very powerful evocation of the life of this extraordinary figure,
  13. a man who was deeply involved in the growth of industrialism,
  14. a part of the Enlightenment, at the heart of the creation of the New World,
  15. and with a passion for education.
  16. A man who was also deeply invested in science, in the arts, in the humanities and in politics.
  17. A polymath, I think, a Renaissance figure in the heart of the Enlightenment -
  18. and one of the first significant members of the Royal Society of Arts.
  19. If you don't know this institution, I really encourage you to find more about it.
  20. It was founded, I think I'm correct in saying, in 1753, by William Shipley,
  21. and its full name is the Royal Society of Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
  22. And it's had a long history in the promotion and advocacy of appropriate forms of public education.
  23. I have had a long association myself with the RSA. I gave a lecture here
  24. - even Matthew may not know this - in July of 1990, in this very room.
  25. And I propose to repeat it word for word, if that's alright? (audience laughs)
  26. Don't you I should waste time thinking anything fresh for you, frankly?
  27. No, in 1990, I had been running a national Arts in Schools project
  28. and I had published a book on the arts in schools.
  29. I have a great passion for the arts, and we were meeting here,
  30. shortly after the introduction of the national curriculum in England,
  31. which profoundly misunderstood the place of the arts in education.
  32. So I was talking about how the arts could be made part of the main stream of education.
  33. And here we are, 17 years later - well it's all so different, I feel.
  34. So I want to say a few words about that, and I want to show you a couple of short movie clips,
  35. and then to have a conversation with you.
  36. One of the things that have happened to me since 1990 is that I have moved to live in America
  37. and I moved there 7 years ago, at the invitation of the Getty Center.
  38. I didn't flee Great Britain, but put yourself in my place:
  39. I had a phone call on the 3rd of January 1990, when I was living near Coventry.
  40. And this guy said: "Would you like to come and live in California?" (audience laughs)
  41. We left immediately. (audience laughs) I didn't ask what the job was, we just went.
  42. And - the phone is still swinging on the hook, actually, in the house,
  43. and we hope some day the children will track us down, but we don't care.
  44. But I now live in America, and I love it. Who has been to Los Angeles? Here, anyone?
  45. It's an extraordinary place.
  46. We were in Las Vegas recently, my wife and I. We've been together for 30 years
  47. and we decided last year to get married again.
  48. So we went to the Elvis Chapel (audience laughs). Now, I recommend it. You should do it.
  49. We had the Blue Hawaii package, but there are others. The Blue Hawaii package, you get the
  50. Elvis impersonator, 4 songs, the chapel, of course, a puff of smoke as you go in -
  51. you have to request that - and a hula girl, that was optional, but I opted for it,
  52. for reasons I was rather pleased about, frankly.
  53. For another 100 dollars, we could have had a pink Cadillac, but we thought that was a bit tacky.
  54. We thought that was lowering the tone of the whole occasion, frankly
  55. but I mention it, because Las Vegas is an iconic example of the things I would like us to talk about.
  56. Not Las Vegas in itself, but the idea that gave rise to it.
  57. If you think of it, every other city on earth has a reason to be where it is.
  58. Like London, you know, it's in a natural basin, so it's good for trade, or it's in a harbour,
  59. or it's in a valley, so it's good for agriculture, you know, or it's on a hillside, so it's good for defence.
  60. But none of this is true of Las Vegas. There is no physical reason for it to be there.
  61. The only reason it's there is the thing that gave rise to this organization,
  62. that affects every aspect of your life, which makes humanity what it is.
  63. The only thing, in my opinion, which is the extraordinary power,
  64. which is bestowed on human beings, that no other species has, so far as we can judge.
  65. I mean the power of imagination. We take it totally for granted.
  66. This capacity to bring into mind the things that aren't present,
  67. and on that base to hypothesize about things that have never been, but could be.
  68. Every feature of human culture, in my view, is the consequence of this unique capacity.
  69. Now, other creatures may have something like it, other creatures sing,
  70. but they don't write operas. Other creatures are agile, but they don't form Olympic Committees.
  71. They communicate, but they don't have festivals of theatre.
  72. They have structures, but they don't build buildings and furnish them.
  73. We are unique in this capacity, a capacity that has produced the most extraordinary diversity
  74. of human culture, of enterprise, of innovation, 6000 languages currently spoken on earth.
  75. And the great adventure which produced, among other things, the Royal Society of Arts
  76. and all of its works.
  77. But I believe that we systematically destroy this capacity in our children and in ourselves.
  78. Now, I pick my words carefully. I don't say "deliberately".
  79. I don't think it's deliberate, but it happens to be systematic.
  80. We do it routinely, unthinkingly, and that's the worst of it.
  81. Because we take for granted certain ideas about education, about children,
  82. about what it is to be educated, about social need and social utility, about economic purpose.
  83. We take these ideas for granted, and they turn out not to be true.
  84. Many ideas that seem obvious turn out not to be true. That was really the great adventure of the Enlightenment:
  85. ideas that seemed obvious that turned out not to be true.
  86. Ironically though, I believe, the legacy of the Enlightenment is now hampering
  87. the reforms that are needed in education.
  88. We have grown up in a system of public education which is dominated by two ideas.
  89. One of them is a conception of economic utility. And you can illustrate that directly.
  90. It's implicit in the structure of the school curriculum. It's simply present.
  91. There is in every school system on earth a hierarchy of subjects. You know it: you went through it.
  92. If you're in education, you have probably subscribed to it, or you have contributed to it, somehow.
  93. When we moved to America, we put our kids into high school, and it was recognizable.
  94. The curriculum is totally recognizable: Math, science and the English language at the top;
  95. then the humanities, down, and the arts way down at the bottom.
  96. And in the arts, there is always another hierarchy, art and music are always thought to be more important
  97. than drama and dance.
  98. There isn't a school in the country that I know of - a school system, let me be clear -
  99. there isn't a school system actually anywhere that teaches dance every day, systematically,
  100. to every child, in the way that we require them to learn mathematics.
  101. Now I'm not against mathematics, on the contrary. But why is dance such a looser in the system?
  102. Well, I think, one of the reasons is, people never say any economic point in it.
  103. So there's an economic judgment that's made in the structure of school curriculum.
  104. And I'm sure it was true of you: you probably found yourself benignly steered away
  105. from things you were good at in school, towards things that other people advised would be
  106. more useful to you.
  107. So effectively, our school curricula are based on the premiss that there are two sorts of subjects:
  108. useful ones and useless ones. And the useless ones fall away, eventually.
  109. And they fall away especially when money starts to become tight, as it always is.
  110. George Bush was in town, today, wasn't he? I just thought I'd share the pain, that was all.
  111. I just - I'm feeling it. No: President Bush, as I call him, was responsible, with others,
  112. for a cross-party piece of legislation in America, to reform public education.
  113. And I have had lots of conversations about it, now I live in America, which I shall keep saying, by the way,
  114. to make you feel bad, OK? I live in California and you don't. So there.
  115. No, when I got to America, I was told that the Americans don't get irony.
  116. This is not true. This is a British conceit. I feel OK about it, because there are other ones.
  117. When we went to America, we were given a guidebook
  118. of how to behave in America - honestly, by our removals agent. How to behave in America.
  119. I'm handing it out now to all the Americans I meet now, like: "You do it, you do it", you know
  120. "Let's all behave properly, shall we?" But one of the things that was said in it was:
  121. "Don't hug people in America. They don't like it." Honestly, it's explicit:
  122. "Don't hug them, they don't like it." This turns out to be nonsens. They love it.
  123. People in my experience love getting hugged in America, but we thought they didn't, so
  124. for the first year, we had kept our arms at our sides at social gatherings, for fear of committing offence
  125. and this all added to the idea that we tipified British reserve, you know,
  126. or that we were some refugees from River Dance.
  127. But I was told the Americans don't get irony. And then I came across this piece of legislation in America,
  128. called No Child Left Behind.
  129. And I thought, whoever came up with that title gets irony, because
  130. this legislation is leaving millions of children behind.
  131. Of, course, that's not a very attractive name for a legislation,
  132. "Millions of Children Left Behind"; I can see that, but give or take a twittle,
  133. it's the 1998 Education Act in this country.
  134. It was the manifesto, pretty much, that inspired the work of Chris Woodhead, I believe,
  135. during his time at OFSTED.
  136. Now I think this is important, because what it represents to me, is the ideology of education,
  137. written large, and that's the problem.
  138. So let me talk about changing paradigms. My firm conviction is that we have to do much, much more
  139. than is currently happening. Every country on earth, at the moment, is reforming public education.
  140. I don't know of an exception. Mind you, what's new? We've always been reforming public education.
  141. But we are doing it now consistently and systematically, all over the place.
  142. There are two reasons for it. The first one is economic. People try to work out
  143. how do we educate our children to take their place in the economies of the 21st century?
  144. How do we do that, even if we can't anticipate what the economy will look like
  145. at the end of next week, as the recent turmoil is demonstrating.
  146. How do we do that? The second, though, is cultural. Every country on earth is trying to figure out,
  147. how do we educate our children so they have a sense of cultural identity
  148. and so that we can pass on the cultural genes of our communities,
  149. while being part of the process of globalization? How do we square that circle?
  150. Most countries, I believe, are doing what we were doing in 1988, operating on the premiss
  151. that the challenge is to reform education, to make it a better version of what it was.
  152. In other words, the challenge is just to do better what we did before, but improve.
  153. And we have to raise standards. And people say we have to raise standards, as if this is a breakthrough.
  154. Like really, yes, we should. Why would you lower them, you know?
  155. I haven't come across an argument that persuaded me of lowering them.
  156. But raising them - of course we should raise them. The problem is that the current system of education,
  157. in my view and experience, was designed and conceived and structured for a different age.
  158. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment, and in the economic circumstances
  159. of the Industrial Revolution. Before the middle of the 19th century, there were no systems
  160. of public education - not really, I mean, you could get educated by Jesuits, you know,
  161. if you had the money. But public education, paid for from taxation, compulsory to everybody
  162. and free at the point of delivery, that was a revolutionary idea.
  163. And many people objected to it. They said: "It's not possible for many street kids,
  164. working-class children, to benefit from public education: they're incapable of learning
  165. to read and write, and why are we spending time on this?"
  166. So there is also built into it, the whole series of assumptions about
  167. social structuring capacity. But it was designed for its purpose, which why, as the public system evolved
  168. into the 19th and early 20th century, we ended up with a very broad base of elementary education,
  169. junior schools. Everybody went to that. My father's father, my grandfather, he went to that.
  170. He left school by the time he was 12. Most people did, then, at the turn of the century.
  171. And then, gradually, we introduced a layer above it, a secondary education,
  172. and some people went into that, but my father left school at 14, having gone into that.
  173. And then, a small university sector, set across the top of it.
  174. And the assumption was that people would work up and a few would get to the top,
  175. and would go to university. It was modelled on the economic premisses of industrialism,
  176. that is, that we needed a broad base of people to do manual, blue-collar work
  177. and, you know, roughly, they could do language and arithmetic;
  178. a smaller group who would go to administrative work: that was what the grammar schools were for;
  179. and an even smaller group who would go off and run the Empire for us, and become
  180. the lawyers, and the judges, and the doctors - and they were the universities.
  181. Now, I simplify, but that's essentially how the thing came about.
  182. And it was driven by an economic imperative of the time, but running right through it,
  183. was an intellectual model of the mind, which was essentially the Enlightenment's view of intelligence,
  184. that real intelligence consists in this capacity for a certain type of deductive reasoning,
  185. and a knowledge of the classics, originally, what we come to think of as academic ability.
  186. And this is deep in the gene pool of public education, that there are really two types of people:
  187. academic and non academic; smart people and non smart people.
  188. And the consequence of that is that many brilliant people think they're not,
  189. because they're being judged against this particular view of the mind.
  190. So we have twin pillars: economic and intellectual. And my view is that this model
  191. has caused chaos in many people's lives.
  192. It has been great for some: there are people who benefitted wonderfully from it.
  193. But most people have not, and it has created a massive problem.
  194. I spoke at a conference a couple of - well, the TED conference that Matthew refered to.
  195. One of the other speakers was Al Gore, or Al, as I refer to him.
  196. Al Gore gave the talk at the TED conference - by the way, if you don't know the TED conference,
  197. I do recommend you visit the website, it is fantastic.
  198. But Al Gore gave the talk that became the movie "Inconvenient Truth".
  199. Al Gore's view, which isn't his, he'd be the first to say it, it dates back to Rachel Carson
  200. and earlier. It actually dates back, if you look, even to the work of Linnaeus in the 18th centry,
  201. it dates back to Franklin, it dates back to the work of this society.
  202. A concern with the ecology of the natural world, and the sustainability of industrialism
  203. in the 17th and 18th century, they were concerned about them.
  204. But his work is an attempt to put the case back into a modern context.
  205. I believe he's right, and it's not just his view. A group of geologists have recently published a paper,
  206. in which they argue that the earth has entered a new geological period.
  207. Classically, the view is that since the end of the last Ice Age, about 12'000 years ago,
  208. we are in a period called the Holocene period.
  209. They believe we've entered a new period. And they say, if people were to - a future generation
  210. of geologists were to come to earth, they would see the evidence of it,
  211. of a change in the earth's geological personality. They would see it in the evidence of
  212. carbon deposits in the earth's crust, the acidification of oceans,
  213. the evidence of the mass extinction of species, the change in the earth's atmosphere,
  214. and hundreds of other indicators.
  215. They say it's unmistakably, in their view, a new geological period.
  216. A series of Nobel scientists have agreed to this view. They are provisionally calling this, not the holocene
  217. but the anthropocene. What they mean by that is a geological age created by the activities of people,
  218. as in anthropos. And they say there is no historical questioning of this.
  219. And this is really what I want to get to. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, William Shipley,
  220. the great figures of the Enlightenment, both in politics and science, and the arts,
  221. were conceiving public education, and civic structures, and politics of duty
  222. at a time of revolutionary turmoil. It was the age of revolutions in France, in America,
  223. not long after our civil disturbance here,
  224. at a time of extraordinary intellectual adventures and new horizons, extraordinary innovation.
  225. Before them, there was nothing, really, that ever lead to an age of such innovation
  226. and such extraordinary change - the rate of it.
  227. And it was a fair caracterization of the times.
  228. But there is every evidence to show now that what was happening then is as nothing
  229. to what is happening now.
  230. I believe the changes taking place on earth now are without precedent,
  231. in terms of their character and their implications.
  232. And our best salvation is to develop this capacity for imagination, and do it systematically
  233. through public education, and to connect people with their true talents.
  234. We simply can't afford this devastation anymore.
  235. So when Al Gore talks about this, I believe him. And I think that if you don't think that
  236. there is a crisis in the world's natural environment, then you're not paying attention.
  237. And I would take the option to leave the planet soon, right?
  238. You see, I believe that there is a parallel climate crisis.
  239. Now one of them is probably enough for you, honestly.
  240. You know: I think now I'm fine, one is good. I don't need a second one.
  241. But there is a second one, and it's what my work is about, and I guess what many of you
  242. will be concerned about, and I know, what Edge is concerned about,
  243. and what Matthew and the RSA's committee are concerned about.
  244. But let me put it in a particular way to you. I believe there is a global crisis,
  245. not only in natural resources, though I believe it - a global crisis in human resources.
  246. I believe that the parallel with the crisis in the natural world is exact.
  247. And the costs of clearing this up are catastrophic.
  248. I'll give you a couple of quick examples. In California, the State Government last year spent
  249. about 3 billion dollars on the State University system.
  250. These are public figures. They spent over 9 billion dollars on the State prison system.
  251. Now, I cannot believe that more potential criminals are born every year in California
  252. than potential college graduates. What you have are people in bad conditions going bad.
  253. I remember Bernard Levin, once, he wrote in one of his articles in the Times
  254. and he said he'd been at a dinner party, and he was asked - the question round the dinner table was:
  255. "Are people mainly good or mainly bad?".
  256. And he said, without hesitation, they're mainly good.
  257. He said I was astonished to find I was in a minority round the table, a minority of one.
  258. But he believed with Viktor Frankl, who survived the Holocaust
  259. and saw his parents die, that for all of that, people are fundamentally good.
  260. I believe they are fundamentally good, but there are people living in very bad circumstances and conditions.
  261. And if you put people in poor conditions, they behave in particular ways.
  262. So we spend a lot of our time remediating the damage.
  263. And meanwhile, I think that the other exact parallel is that pharmaceutical companies
  264. are reaping a gold rush from this distress.
  265. If you look at the growth of antidepressants, of prescription drugs to treat depression,
  266. to suppress people's feelings, this is a gold rush, I mean pharmaceutical companies
  267. don't want to cure depression, on the contrary.
  268. I mean also, one of the things I saw recently is that suicide rates among 15-30 year olds
  269. have increased over 60% globally since the 1960's.
  270. It's one of the largest causes of death among the young people.
  271. What is that? You know, people born with hope and optimism, who decide to check out,
  272. because they can't cope.
  273. Now, I don't say education is part of that, or responsible for it,
  274. but it contributes to it. That's really all I want to say.
  275. So this crisis of human resources is, I think, absolutely urgent and palpable.
  276. So the challenge, to me, is not to reform education, but to transform it into something else.
  277. I think we have to come to a definite set of assumptions.
  278. Now, I say this advisedly, because I have been involved in all kinds of initiatives
  279. over my professional life. I started out in drama work, I moved and began some school's project,
  280. some of the people in the room I've known for years and worked with for the years,
  281. and I've had a long association here.
  282. One of the great initiatives of the RSA, in the 1980's, was "Education for Capability".
  283. You should look at "Education for Capability", it said extraordinary useful and practical things,
  284. and there were wonderful people around it: Charles Handy, whom I got to know recently,
  285. well, not recently, but I've got to know well in recent years: he was chairman here, of the RSA;
  286. Tyrell Burgess, Corelli Barnet, Patrick Lutchens,
  287. I shared an appartment, when I was a student, with Patrick's son -
  288. and - a kind of galaxy of really powerful thinkers - John Tomlinson who was chairman here for a while,
  289. who was with me at Warwick University.
  290. There's been a long tradition of arguing for the change, arguing for the alternative.
  291. And yet successive governments come in and do what they did before
  292. And this really worries me - and I speak personally - you know, that after all the optimism I felt
  293. 10 years ago, I feel that we've had, of the past 10 years - a kind of myriads of policies,
  294. but too few principles. I can't see what they've added up to.
  295. And I say that because I didn't see it before, and I don't see it anywhere else.
  296. I mean there are some countries, which I feel are getting this right, but we're not.
  297. And the reason is, because we're not fundamentally changing the underlying assumptions of the system,
  298. which should deal with intelligence, ability, economic purpose and what people need.
  299. We still educate people from the outside in. We figure out what the country needs
  300. and we try and get it to conform with it, rather than seeing what makes people drive forward
  301. and building education systems around a model of personhood, which is what I think we should come to.
  302. So let me - I just want to show you a couple of quick slides to - I don't have to,
  303. but as I've gone through the trouble of preparing them, frankly -
  304. I just want to give you an example of a couple of things, here.
  305. Oh, by the way, so many things that Matthew kindly said, are in this book.
  306. This book, by the way, is terrific. OK? You cound't do better than buying this book.
  307. That is, unless you buy this book,
  308. which is a new book, which is coming out in January from Penguin. I'm very excited about this book.
  309. This book is about the nature of human talent and how people discover it.
  310. It's based on the premiss that people do their best when they do the thing they love,
  311. when they are in their element. So I was trying to get to what that is. What is it to be in your element?
  312. And I spoke to scientists and artists and business leaders and poets and parents and kids.
  313. And it seems to me, the evidence is absolutely persuasive, when people connect to this
  314. powerful sense of talent in themselves, discover what it is they can do, they become somebody else.
  315. And that, to me, is the premiss of building a new education system.
  316. It's not about bringing force in the old model, but reconstituting our sense of self.
  317. And it happens to synergize - errh, is that a verb? I'm not sure - with the new economic purposes.
  318. There are 2 big drives of change, currently: one is technology, you know that?
  319. This is a brain cell. What I want to draw on it, what I want to underline,
  320. is that technology is moving faster than most people really, truthfully, understand.
  321. Can I ask you, how many of you here consider yourselves to be baby-boomers or older?
  322. I thought so. All of you - who is not? who consider yourselves to be a generation X or millenial? OK
  323. You boomer types or older - Actually, no. If you are over 30, would you put your hand up
  324. if you are wearing a wristwatch?
  325. There we go, thank you. Just curious. No, this is interesting.
  326. Ask a roomful of teenagers the same question. Ask them if they wear wristwatches. They mainly don't.
  327. And the reason is - I wanted to make 2 points - the reason they don't wear wristwateches
  328. is because they don't see the point. Because for them, time is everywhere.
  329. You know, it's on their iPhones, their iPods their mobiles - it's everywhere.
  330. No, why would you wear this? And my daughter comes on: "Why should I put a special device
  331. on my wrist to tell the time?" And she said, "Plus, it only does one thing." you know, like,
  332. "How lame is that? A single-function device, so you - have you cranked up?"
  333. But we take it for granted, don't we? You have other options, but this thing I mean about
  334. taking for granted is important. It's the things we take for granted that we need to kind of
  335. identify and question. I mean, did you think about putting your warch on this morning?
  336. Truthfully, was it like an agony? "Shall I" - you know - "Is it a 'watchy' day? I just don't know, really.
  337. I'll put it on to be safe, you know." You don't: you just do it.
  338. Our kids don't, and the point is of some importance. A guy called Mark Prensky made this point,
  339. that our children live in a different world. He made - talks about the difference between
  340. digital natives and digital immigrants.
  341. If you were born - If you're under 20, you're an immigrant - you're a native.
  342. You speak digital, you were born with this stuff and it's in your head, like a first language.
  343. We're less so. But the point is, this is getting faster and faster and faster.
  344. One of the new horizons is likely to be the merging of human intelligence with information systems.
  345. That's a brain cell, and that's a brain cell growing on a silicon chip.
  346. Well, we see. But there are things that lie ahead, for which there are no precedent.
  347. And the impact on culture promises to be extraordinary.
  348. This is the other thing I want to point to, which is the curve of the wold's population.
  349. You see, 1750, when the RSA was being established, and William Shipley was wondering
  350. what to do in the evenings, there were about a billion people on the whole of the earth:
  351. pretty evenly distributed, mostly in the far-flung parts of what became the Empire,
  352. but a lot of them in the industrialized - what would become the industrialized economies.
  353. About a billion people. London was a tiny place, by comparison.
  354. Now, if you look at this curve, we are at around 6 billion, and the big jump happened in 1970.
  355. Well, from 1970 to the year 2000, where the population on earth increased by over 3 million.
  356. 1968, remember, was the Summer of love. It's probably a coincidence.
  357. Yes but - but we all did our bit, you know. That's all right.
  358. But this is interesting: the dot line is the growth of population in the developed economies.
  359. The real growth is happening in the emergent economies:
  360. Asia, Africa, parts of South America and so on. And it's heading to 9 billion.
  361. The other thing that's happening is that the world is becoming increasingly urbanized.
  362. At the beginning of the 18th century, until 19th century, most people lived in the countryside.
  363. About 3% of people lived in the cities. Of course, the great social movement of industrialism
  364. was the migration to the cities.
  365. But even so, at the turn of the 20th century, still, something less than 20% of the people lived in cities.
  366. Currently, 50% of the world's population lives in cities. 50% of the 6 billion,
  367. and we are heading to 60% of nine billion people living in cities -
  368. not here, not in UK, not in America, not in the rest of Europe, but in the emergent economies.
  369. Now, this massive migration is without precedent.
  370. So these aren't going to be groovy cities, you know, with information booths and property taxes and Starbucks.
  371. These are massive, sprawling, vernacular cities, probably more like this.
  372. This is Caracas, in Venezuela. A massive and rapidly growing metropolis.
  373. The greater Tokyo, at the moment, has a population of 35 million people, which is more
  374. than the entire population of Canada, in one place.
  375. Now about the middle of the century, there may be 20 megacities, over 500 cities over a million.
  376. You can see my point, here, that these are unprecedented circumstances,
  377. an unprecedented drain on the earth's resources, an unprecedented demand for innovation,
  378. for fresh thinking, fresh social systems, fresh ways forgetting people to connect with themselves
  379. and have lives with purpose and meaning.
  380. Education is a major part of the solution. The problem is, I believe, we are backing the wrong horses.
  381. Now, there was a report by McKinsey recently, which showed this
  382. These are American figures. In America, since 1980 more or less, spending on education
  383. has increased 73% in real money.
  384. Class sizes have gone down to historically low levels.
  385. But on this indicator, literacy, there has been no change in achievement.
  386. More money, smaller classes, no change.
  387. Drop-put rates are increasing, graduation rates are declining: it's a major problem.
  388. The problem is, they're trying to meet the future by doing what they did in the past.
  389. And on the way, they're alienating millions of kids who don't see any purpose in going to school.
  390. When we went to school, we were kept there with a story, which was that if you worked hard
  391. and did well, and got a college degree, you would have a job.
  392. Our kids don't believe that. And they're right not to, by the way.
  393. You're better having a degree than not, but it's not a guarantee anymore, and particularly not if
  394. the route to it marginalizes most of the things that you think are important about yourself.
  395. And one thing that sits right in the middle of this is this idea
  396. that there are academic and non academic kids, that something called vocational training,
  397. which is not as good as academic education, that people with theoretical degrees
  398. are inherently better people than those who can do real craft and the kind of work which
  399. previously would have been venerated in Guild systems.
  400. We have this intellectual apartheid running through education.
  401. And so, lots of people try to defend it or to repair it.
  402. I think we just got to reconize its mythical. And we have to strip it out of our thinking.
  403. This is one of the consequences of it. Let me ask you another question.
  404. How many of you who are not - how many of you over 30 have had your tonsils removed? Be frank with me.
  405. Come. OK. I ask you this for a reason, connected with things we take for granted.
  406. People of my generation, and I was born in 1950. Now, I know you don't believe that.
  407. I can see the sense of incredulity sweeping through the room, eh?
  408. "How could it be?", you're saying to yourselves. Well, I live in Los Angeles, you know.
  409. I have worked on it, what can I tell you? But er, no but people of my generation, in the 50's and 60's,
  410. and in the 40's, I guess. The minute they had a sore throat, somebody pounced on them
  411. and took their tonsils out. That's true, isn't it? It was routine to have your tonsils removed.
  412. You could not afford to have a ticklish cough in the 1950's,
  413. or somebody would reach for your throat, and hey pronto, would remove your tonsils.
  414. It was routine. Millions of tonsils were removed in that period.
  415. What happened to them? We don't know. I mean - I believe it's a scandal, I don't know, but -
  416. It's one of those things like Rockwell, you know, like area 56.
  417. Somewhere in America, in a desert, there is this stockpile. Anyway.
  418. Now the thing about this is this, that nowadays, people do have tonsilectomies,
  419. but it's not common. It's unusual to have it done. You have to have a chronic case,
  420. with no hope of it being repaired in some other way, to have your tonsils taken out.
  421. When I was growing up, they were thought to be totally disposable.
  422. We just wipped them out and let's not have anymore nonsense out them.
  423. And some people voluntarily had it done, so that they could get the ice cream.
  424. Our children, this generation, do not suffer the plague of tonsilectomies.
  425. Instead, they suffer this: this is the modern epidemic, and it is as misplaced, and it's as fictitious.
  426. This is the plague of ADHD. Now, this is a map of the incidence of ADHD in America,
  427. or prescriptions for ADHD. Don't mistake me: I don't mean to say there is no such thing
  428. as Attention Deficit Disorder. I'm not qualified to say if there is such a thing.
  429. I know that a great majority of psychologists and pediatricians think there is such a thing.
  430. But it's still a matter of debate.
  431. What I do know for a fact, is it's not an epidemic. I believe that these kids are being medicated
  432. as routinely as we had our tonsils taken out, and on the same whimsical basis,
  433. and for the same reason: medical fashion.
  434. Our children are living in the most intense, intensely stimulating period in the history of the earth.
  435. They are being besieged with information and calls to their attention
  436. from every platform: computers, from iPhones, from advertising hoardings,
  437. from hundreds of television channels.
  438. And we are penalizing them now for getting distracted.
  439. from what? you know, boring stuff at school, for the most part.
  440. It seems to me it's not a coincidence, totally, that the incidence of ADHD has risen in parallel
  441. with the growth of standardized testing.
  442. Now, these kids are being given Ritalin, and Adrol and all manner of things -
  443. often quite dangerous drugs - to get them focused and calm them down.
  444. Now, I know this is nonsense, immediately you see this thing,
  445. because the light areas are where there isn't much of it.
  446. Now I live in California and people there won't pay attention for more than a minute and a half,
  447. you know, so - but according to this, Attention Deficit Disorder increases
  448. as you travel East across the country.
  449. People start losing interest in Oklahoma,
  450. they can hardly think straight in Arkansas,
  451. and by the time you get to Washington, they've lost it completely.
  452. And there are separate reasons for that, I believe.
  453. It's a fictitious disease. I'm sorry, I don't want to say it's a fictitious condition,
  454. it's a fictitious epidemic.
  455. As I was saying earlier, I have a big interest in the arts
  456. And if you think of it, the arts - and I don't say it's exclusively the arts, I think
  457. it's also true of science and of math - but let me - I say about the arts, particularly, because
  458. they are the victims of this mentality, currently, particularly.
  459. The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience.
  460. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak.
  461. When you're present in the current moment, when you're resonating with the excitement of this thing
  462. that you're experiencing, when you are fully alive.
  463. And anaesthetic is when you shut your senses off and deaden yourself to what's happening.
  464. And a lot of these drugs are that. We are getting our children through education by anaesthetizing them.
  465. And I think we should be doing the exact opposite. We shouldn't be putting them asleep,
  466. we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves.
  467. But the model we have is this: its - I believe we have a system of education that is modeled on
  468. the interest of industrialism, and in the image of it.
  469. I'll give you a couple of examples. Schools are still pretty much organized on factory lines:
  470. ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects.
  471. We still educate children by batches, you know, we put them through the system by age group.
  472. Why do we do that? you know, Why is there this assumption that the most important thing
  473. kids have in common is how old they are? You know, it's like the most important thing about them
  474. is their date of manufacture. I mean, well I know kids who are much better than an other kids
  475. of the same age in different disciplines, you know, or at different times of the day.
  476. Or better in small groups than in large groups. Or sometimes, they want to be on their own.
  477. If you're interested in the model of learning, you don't start from this production line mentality.
  478. These are some of the keywords in the industrial model:
  479. Utility, which shapes the curriculum; linearity, which informs choices and the assumptions
  480. of what matters and what doesn't.
  481. It's essentially about conformity, increasingly, it's about that, if you look at the growth
  482. of standardized testing and standardized curricula. And it's about standardization.
  483. Now, for reasons we'll come to before we're done,
  484. I believe we have to go in the exact opposite direction.
  485. That's what I mean by changing the paradigm. We have to question what we take for granted.
  486. The problem in questioning what we take for granted is that we don't know what it is.
  487. Let's have a quick read of this.
  488. (B Russell: man as 4 astronomer or 4 Hamlet or both?)
  489. I love this quote. As you can see, it's from Bertrand Russell.
  490. And it seems to me to be the quintessential question of Western philosophy, you know.
  491. When it comes to it, what is this? Are we all that Hamlet thought we were,
  492. or are we just a kind of cosmic accident of no importance?
  493. I got very interested in this first part of the question, this "small, unimportant planet".
  494. Well, how small, you know, how unimportant is this planet?
  495. It's hard to get an image of this, isn't it, because, if you think of it,
  496. the distances of space are so vast, you know, like for example, this is an image from the Hubble telescope.
  497. This is the Magellanic cloud.
  498. Well, you know, distance in space is measured in light-years, distance that light travels in a year,
  499. which is far, truthfully. I mean that's farther than Brighton, you know, really.
  500. Now that's 170'000 light years. I mean, can you get your head round them?
  501. It's just: oh, it's big.
  502. On Wednesday .... all of that
  503. The problem with getting any sense of how big the earth is, or small is, the distances are so immense
  504. that they blear our perception of relative size. So I came across this image.
  505. ... it is on the internet, I just quickly want to show them to you.
  506. I think they are fantastic. I had them rerendered for your benefit.
  507. These are pictures of - somebody had the brilliant idea of taking the Earth out of the sky
  508. and lining it up with the other - with some other planets in the solar system
  509. for purpose of comparison of size. So it's like a team photo, you know, of some of the planets
  510. in the solar system and beyond. It starts with this:
  511. ..... I love that image. ..... I think we're looking good, that's what the first example is.
  512. There are a couple of things I want to say about - a couple of things I want to say about this.
  513. The first is that I think we are less concerned than we were about being invaded by Martian hoards.
  514. Aren't we? I mean, bring it on, I feel, like, you and whose army - I think we are feeling.
  515. The second thing is that Pluto is no longer a planet. And frankly, we can see why, now, can't we?
  516. I mean, what were we thinking, you know, it's a boulder, frankly.
  517. So pull back a bit. though. And it's a bit less encouraging, isn't it?
  518. don't you think? A bit less encouraging. And Pluto is a kind of cosmic embarassment now,
  519. so we don't seem to (contr). But we know the sun is a big deal. But how big exactly is the sun,
  520. compared to the earth? So this is - I checked this with some astrophysicists, they said,
  521. yes, this would be about right. Here we are with the sun in the picture.
  522. Did you know that? But keep your eye on the sun, because that's not the biggest thing on the block.
  523. This the sun against some other objects not in our solar system,
  524. but that you can see in the night sky.
  525. So Jupiter is one pixel, now, and the earth is gone. So we ought to be friends with Arcturus.
  526. But keep your eye on Arcturus for a minute.
  527. So I think our bet is on Antares.
  528. I mean, that's extraordinary, isn't it?
  529. So, go back to that, and we are infinitesimally, pitifully tiny in the great cosmic scheme.
  530. Now, I just want to say a couple of things, quickly.
  531. The first is, whatever you woke up worrying about, this morning, really, get over it.
  532. Honestly, make the call and move on.
  533. But the second thing is this: that this may be, but we do have this extraodinary power.
  534. And I can put it this way: we have a power, which enables us to conceive
  535. of our own insignificance.
  536. No other species on earth is sitting around, getting anxiety attacks over these images, you know.
  537. You don't see other species, in little forest clearings, saying, "I have no idea that you have -
  538. I mean, trust me. I wasn't expecting this." They won't. And they didn't produce these images either.
  539. We have this extraordinary human power to conceive of objects outside of our current experience
  540. and to express them in conceptual, symbolic forms, in ways that other people can engage with and grasp.
  541. And we are therefore the species that did produce Hamlet and the work of Mozart
  542. and the Industrial Revolution, and this extraordinary building, with its amazing images
  543. and hip hop, and jazz, and quantum mechanics, and the theory of relativity, and air travel,
  544. and the jet engine, and all the things that characterize the extraordinary ascent of human culture.
  545. But we destroy it in the way we educate, but I just want to end it and open up for some conversation
  546. by giving an example of something. There was a great study done recently of divergent thinking.
  547. It was published a couple of years ago. Divergent thinking isn't the same thing as creativity.
  548. I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value.
  549. Divergent thinking isn't a synonym, but it is an essential capacity for creativity.
  550. It's the ability to - to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways
  551. of interpreting a question, to think whatever de Bono would call laterally,
  552. to think not just in linear or convergent ways.
  553. To see multiple answers, not one. So I made a little test for this,
  554. I mean one kind of counterexample would be, people might be asked to say
  555. how many uses can you think of for a paper clip. That's routine questions.
  556. Most people might come with 10 or 15. People who are good at this might come with 200.
  557. And they do that by saying, well, could the paper clip be turned - could be made out of foam rubber,
  558. you know, like, does this have to be a paper clip as we know it, jim, you know.
  559. Now, there are tests of this, and I gave them to 1500 people, it is in a bok called
  560. "Break Point and Beyond". And on the protocol of the text, if you score above a certain level,
  561. you'd be considered to be a genius at divergent thinking.
  562. So my question to you is what percentage of the people tested, of the 1500,
  563. scored at genius level for divergent thinking?
  564. Now you need to know one more thing about them: these were kndergarden children, OK?
  565. So what do you think? What percentage at genius level?
  566. (from the audience: 80) KR: 80 - 80 OK?
  567. It's not correct. 98%. Now, the thing about this was it was a longitudinal study.
  568. So they re-tested the same children 5 years later, age of 8 to 10.
  569. What do you think?
  570. 50? They retested them again 5 years later, ages 13 to 15. You can see a trend here, can't you?
  571. They tested 200'000 adults, 25 years and older, just once, as a control. What do you think?
  572. Yes, you know.
  573. Now, I always say, if you are in business, these are the people you're hiring, OK?
  574. So now, this tells an interesting story, because you could have imagined it going the other way.
  575. Couldn't you? You start of not being very good, but you get better as you get older.
  576. But this shows two things. One is, we all have this capacity, and two, it mostly deteriorates.
  577. Now, lots of things have happened to these kids as they've grown up, a lot.
  578. But one of the most important things out of them, I'm convinced, is that by now, they've become educated.
  579. You know, they've spent 10 years at school, being told that there's one answer, it's at the back.
  580. And don't look. And don't copy, because that's cheating.
  581. I mean, outside school, that's called collaboration, you know, but inside schools.
  582. Now this isn't because teachers want to do it this way. It's just because it happens that way.
  583. It's because it's in the gene pool of education.
  584. And to transform it, we have to think differently
  585. Well let me just quickly save this - about that -
  586. we have to think differently about human capacity
  587. This is what in my book "The Element" is about. We have to get over this old conception
  588. of academic, non academic, abstract, theoretical
  589. vocational, and see it for what it is: a myth
  590. Second, we have to recognize that most great learning happens in groups
  591. that collaboration is the stuff of growth, you know, if we atomize people and separate them
  592. and judge them separately, we form a kind of disjunction between them and their natural learning environment.
  593. And thirdly, it's crucially about the culture of our institutions, the habits of the institutions,
  594. and the habitats that they occupy. Let me just put my hand on it.
  595. A great quote recently, which seemed to me to capture some of this,
  596. about this distinction between ourselves and the species.
  597. and it says - just find it - probably in my other suit, isn't it? It's about - here we go:
  598. I rather like this, as a view. It says that when we come to assess people, we should be fairer with ourselves
  599. It says: "After all, human beings were born of risen apes, not fallen angels.
  600. And so what shall we wonder at? Our massacres? Our missiles? Or our symphones?
  601. The miracle of human kind is not how far we have sunk, but how magnificently we have risen.
  602. We will be known among the stars, not by our corpses, but by our poems."
  603. And I believe there's a fair amount of profound truth in that.
  604. We have it in our grasp to form systems of education based on these different principles
  605. But it means a shift from the industrial metaphor of education to what I think of as the - an agricultural metaphor.
  606. If you think of it, if you look at the organizational chart of most companies and organizations,
  607. it looks a bit like a wiring diagram, doesn't it, if you look at the structure, like boxes and things that are connected
  608. But human organizations are not like mechanisms,
  609. even though these charts suggest the metaphor that they are.
  610. Human organizations are much more like organisms.
  611. That's to say, they depend upon feelings and relationships, and motivation,
  612. and value, self-value, and a sense of identity, and of community.
  613. You know the way you work in an organization is you're deeply affected by your feeling for it.
  614. Therefore, I think, a much better metaphor is not industrialism but agriculture or an organic metaphor.
  615. I'm doing a whole project in the State of Oklahoma, where I'm trying to develop these ideas across the whole State.
  616. But I mentioned Las Vegas at the beginning. I want to show a last image of this now.
  617. Not far from Las Vegas there is a place called Death Valley.
  618. Death Valley is the hottest place in America. Not much rse in Death Valley.
  619. Because it doesn't rain. In the Winter of 2004, something remarkable happened.
  620. It rained. 7 inches. And in the Spring of 2005, there was a phenomenon. The whole flora of Death Valley
  621. was coated with Spring flowers. Photographers and botanist scientists came from all across of America
  622. to witness this thing they might not see again. What it demonstrated was that Death Valley
  623. wasn't dead. It was asleep. Right beneath the surface were these seeds of growth
  624. waiting for conditions. And I believe it's exactly the same way with human beings.
  625. If we create the right conditions in our schools - if we create the right incentives,
  626. if we value each learner for themselves and properly, growth will happen.
  627. And the growth always happens before - I don't know, I wanted to show you a couple of very short videos,
  628. that will demonstrate, but we are going to our discussion, ... just now
  629. But I think we need to shift from this industrial paradigm to an organic paradigm.
  630. And I think it's perfectly doable. We need to conceive institutions individually,
  631. not systemized, as ones that don't just value utility, but respect and promote living vitality,
  632. the energy of the organization and its potential to be transformative,
  633. that doesn't think in terms of linearity but thinks of creativity and multiple options and lots of possibilities for everybody in it,
  634. that's not about conformity but about diversity and is critically about customization.
  635. This is Death Valley in the Spring of 2005. I think all our schools could be like that.
  636. Somebody once said: "The problem of human beings is not that we aim too high and fail,
  637. it's we aim too low and succeed."
  638. And I think we owe it to William Shipley and Benjamin Franklin to aim high.
  639. Benjamin Franklin once notably said: "There are three sorts of people in the world:
  640. Those who are immovable, those who are movable, and those who move."
  641. And I encourage you, with the RSA, to move, and get a move on. Thank you. (Applause)