Friday, January 15, 2016

Changing the Education Paradigm.... But How?

*This post has been written as part of my journey through my Master's Degree in Curriculum & Planning through Brandon University.
Changing the Education Paradigm. (2008) Uploaded to TED. Availble onine at:

     Sir Kenneth Robinson's speech, "Changing the Education Paradigm" has recorded over 1.6 million views through the TED platform and countless more through the various versions uploaded online through text and video platforms. The video is viewed by everyone from pre-service teachers and educational PD attendees to parents and businessmen/women around the world. The graphics of the video and charisma of Robinson make for an engaging video that is often widely accepted despite evidence of argumentum ad verecundiam. My critique of Robinson's speech is as follows:

1. Significant theoretical, historical, psychology foundations: 
In 2008 Sir Kenneth Robinson argued against aspects of the present-day education system that stem from an essentialism philosophy that Ornstein and Hunkins (2013, p. 38) described as an educational trend where, “cognitive achievement is stressed, along with rigorous grading, testing and discipline.” Robinson claimed that the current view of academic ability stemmed from the viewpoint during the enlightenment period where there was an emphasis on knowledge of the classics (Robinson, 2008, p. 2, para. 5) which reflect the idealism and realism philosophies influencing the essentialism standpoint (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, pp. 31-36). Robinson called for an education shift that echoed progressivists who call for educational models that, “...allow students to say what they think and to think for themselves” (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 39) and for facilities that cultivate collaboration and ensure the longevity of one’s culture (Ornstein & Hunkins, 2013, p. 40).

Ornstein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2013). Curriculum: foundations, principles, and issues. New Jersey, US: Pearson Education.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from

2. Do you agree or disagree with his viewpoint? 
My teaching style reflects the views of Sir Kenneth Robinson in the sense that I am receptive to having students demonstrate their understanding in a manner that best suits their personality, interests, abilities, and resources but sometimes feel hindered by an educational system that requires me to model a particular type of learning in order to appropriately prepare them for divisional assessments. I am hesitant to engage this comparison further due to the fact that although Robinson’s argument has gained a large audience through the popularity of both the TED and RSA platforms, his talk essentially glosses over socially receptive topics such as raising standards, awakening student potential and reducing the amount of standardized tests (Robinson, 2008) but offers little links to hard evidence in support of his claims and no suggestions on how he believes his views should be achieved. Furthermore, I find fault in the way in which Robinson discusses public education as if it is a cohesive model around the world. Robinson’s background is in post-secondary education in the United Kingdom (Wikipedia, 2016), he discusses the topic of Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity-Disorder (A.D.H.D) in the United States, and alludes to the work of George Land and Beth Jarmen whose study took place in multiple countries, yet Robinson uses this dichotomy to paint a seemingly cohesive portrait of public education.

Land, G. & Jarmen, B. (1998). Breakpoint and beyond: mastering the future today. US: Harper Collins.
Robinson, K. (2008, June 16). Changing education paradigms. RSA events transcript. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from
Wikipedia. (2015, December 19). Ken Robinson. Retrieved on January 15, 2016, from:


  1. You have given me reason to reflect on my initial response to this video. At first watch, I vehemently agreed with Robinson and had essentially drank his kool-aid. Your critique of his "call to action" has given me pause, and I believe I need to watch it a second time much more closely than the first. All faults aside, I can't help but agree with the overarching message of educational form, though what form that should take is still up in the air for me.

    1. I do agree that there are many aspects of our current education model that are not working. A focus on pencil-paper tasks, averaging grades, written exams, students grouped by age and not by ability; these are just some concepts that I find fault with.
      This short video, while captivating and "feel good", is missing important details that give me pause.