When bar charts go bad
Robert McKee on the power of story

Sir Ken Robinson: We need to transform education

I'm a big Ken Robinson fan and have pointed to him many times such as in this post on his TED talk from 2006 (and see Sir Ken's ideas on public speaking here). Even if you saw the TED talk, you will enjoy this 15-minute presentation (given sans slides, as is the Sir Ken Robinson style) that he delivered in April of this year to an international crowd of school superintendents at the Apple Education Leadership Summit in San Francisco.

Sir Ken did not go into depth in his 15 minutes on stage. If you want to go deeper into his ideas I recommend his book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. The book will not teach you how to be creative, but it will make you think (and rethink) about the way we do things in the world of work and education. As he says in the talk, we do not need to reform education, we need to transform it. (Below are a couple of slides I'm using in a future hunk on creativity & presentation — click for larger size.)

Quote from Out of Our Minds.

Full quote: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

If you liked the Ken Robinson talk, then you may enjoy this recent talk by Malcolm Gladwell on a related issue.

Note: If you have sent me an email recently — thank you! I am sorry if you have not received a reply (yet). I've been under the weather this week and just swamped with work. I'll try not to suck so much at email in future. Also, travel note: I'll be in Silicon Valley for a preso at HP in Palo Alto on Monday and then in Oregon for a bit, followed by a trip to Redmond (guess where?), then some time in Kona and Honolulu in early August. I plan to have some time to move toward in-box zero.  



oh how you will enjoy inbox zero. a huge weight off your shoulders, once you start thinking about emails like you do phone calls...

where can i find out information regarding you soing speaking engagements?

Paul M.

Thanks for another great video by Sir Ken Robinson. Great thinker with a natural sense of humour. Are you planning to visit the UK any time soon?


I love this guy!! (Referring to Ken, but you too Garr : )) I've been to a lot of government 'innovation' talks in the UK recently which encompass this very subject_reforming education. Looking forward to a time when they stop talking and start doing!
Thanks for sharing.

Lauren Vargas

As a marcom professor who also teaches university speech, I use Sir Ken's Ted talk as an example of great presentation!


An excellent speaker, although his all style little substance approach was akin to the best politicians. He was tramendously enjoyable to watch and give a few hints towards the kind of radical education I agree with - but failed to specifically say what he believes in.

He said that, looking at history, compulsary education was born out of the industrian revolution and to fuel it. That's entirely true and well known (among education schalors at least). And that this type of education might be systemically crushing the most important goals of what education should be - again I'd agree. He says the solution is a focus on creativity - which suggests what other scholars also say, what Neill calls focussing on the child (rather than goals of industry). However he never says exactly how he thinks this can be done. He says he wants transform rather than reform. He suggests that Blairs approach was a total failure. but yet fails to say what he means. Where's the meat? Personally I agree with his sentiments and would argue A.S. Neill and others have already shown us the path to a child/creativity centred education. There's would be the best model to copy.

There are also ideological goals behind industry and therefore industrial education. That of teaching children to know their place in a social order, don't question authority etc. While we may want creativity and child centred education 'the powers that be' certainly don't want these values to be lost, they don't want to encourage values that might lead to greater social justice. Best to keep people dumbed down. George Carlin suggests this is the reasons education will never change and he may be right. Perhaps this guy knows all this and it's too 'radical' a message for his audience?


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