John D. Sutter, a CNN communication technologist as well as a science and innovation contributor, has posted: “Sir Ken Robinson says that our education system works like a factory. It is based on models of mass production and conformity that actually prevent kids from finding their passions and succeeding. . . . Instead of trying to mass-produce children who are good at taking tests and memorizing things, schools should emphasize personal development. Not all kids are good at the same things, and the education system shouldn’t pretend they should all turn out the same.” (Robinson is the author of “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,” a New York Times best seller, and more recently, “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative.”)

These remarks bring echoes of the great American mythologist, Joseph Campbell, who challenged us all to, “Follow your bliss!” and, America’s greatest educator, Robert Maynard Hutchins, who advocated an education inspired by the reading of “the world’s Great Books.”

My own background includes a year of high school teaching and eighteen years on the faculties of several excellent universities where I found, in example after example, young people who prospered when their passions were electric and were disinterested when they were not personally involved.

Education used to be about either of two things: liberal arts emersion or trade school preparation. Each served a very useful and important purpose. Today, sadly, only the latter has emerged as still-important. Even our finest universities are, too often, forgetting their liberal arts history in order to push students into job-specific memorization and preparation. Consequently, far too many graduates of many of America’s finest universities have an incomplete view of thought and a great preparation for a particular profession’s skill set.

With the memorization/testing requirements foisted upon our youth by “No Child Left Behind,” fewer of our children are stimulated to think cogently and to be challenged by the diversity of thought one finds in encountering “The Great Books” and “The Great Ideas.” Their excitement for learning and their natural curiosities have been dulled.

We need to, once again, exalt the diversity of our children — their passions for living and their inherent desire to learn to think creatively! As Robinson has written, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

An anti-learning reliance on memorization and testing is neither the answer, nor a true measure of a child’s potential. What’s more — it is the antithesis of creative thinking!

More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder, ITC Learning
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Tuesdays & Thursdays)
e-Mail: bwalton@itclearning.com