Anaesthetics and Conformity in Schools


‘If you think of it the arts, and I don’t say this exclusively, the arts, I think it’s also true of science and of maths, but I say about the arts particularly because they are the victims of this mentality currently – particularly. The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience.

And aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you’re present in the current moment, when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing, when you’re fully alive. An anaesthetic is when you shut your senses off and deaden yourself to what’s happening. And a lot of these drugs are that. We’re getting our children through education by anaesthetising them. And I think we should be doing the exact opposite. We shouldn’t be putting them asleep we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves.

But the model we have is this. I believe we have a system of education that is modelled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Schools are still pretty much organised on factory lines; ringing bells, separate facilities, specialised into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches; we put them through the system by age group – why do we do that? Why is there this assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is how old they are? It’s like the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture. Well I know kids who are much better than other kids at the same age in different disciplines, or at different times of the day, or better in smaller groups than in large groups, or sometimes they want to be on their own. If you’re interested in the model of learning you don’t start from this production line mentality.

It’s essentially about conformity and increasingly it’s about that if you look at the growth of standardised testing and standardised curricula and it’s about standardisation. I believe we’ve got to go in the exact opposite direction. That’s what I mean about changing the paradigm.’

– Robinson, K. (2008, June 16) Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from Ted.com

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One thought on “Anaesthetics and Conformity in Schools

  1. Robinson could well have been echoing the sentiments of A. S. Neill, Headmaster of the Summerhill school in Leicester, England (for over 50 years), as he expressed them in his book, “SUMMERHILL: A Radical Approach to Child Rearing,” upon whose principals, I raised my son. Neill suggested we were creating happy little drones, dreary sitters at desks and assembly lines. He indicated he would rather see a happy street sweeper than a miserable corporate executive.

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