Sunday, April 29, 2012

Subtle Changes

Abstract Phoenix
The Phoenix

I had the great pleasure of attending the Richmond Forum last Saturday night. Sir Ken Robinson and Rafe Esquith  spoke regarding the current state of education in our country. Sir Ken is a leading visionary, rising to fame in a famous 2006 Ted Conference.     Sir Ken Robinson

Rafe Esquith is an urban educator, changing lives in a fifth grade classroom in Los Angelos. He said that his greatest accomplishment was teaching as a public school educator for over three decades. His work has been well documented both in film and in books.    the hobart shakespeareans

There were so many inspiring moments and I am still discerning and processing the night. However, both men said that education is on a verge of a revolution. They also cautioned teachers to be patient. Stay focused on change within your classroom.

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn't need to be reformed--it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passion.
                                                                                                  Sir Ken Robinson

I have been an educator for 25 years and I feel that Sir Ken's words are profound and yet difficult for our culture to  assimilate. As a whole, politicians do not respect or trust the profession of education. Educators are not always given ownership within their classroom. They may feel intuitively that they need to slow down, or deviate, or pursue another strand of learning  but many educators  are held to a pacing schedule. A schedule created by administrators and politicians removed from the classroom and removed from young children.As Sir Ken Robinson said in his speech, if we could see the irony of the system we would make changes.

A revolution would occur if we as educators began each day by listening and observing the child engaged in learning. Each child would be respected  and perceived as capable individuals. Educators would begin to reflect ' "What can this child do?" "What does this child enjoy?" "How do they learn?" This shift in perception would precipitate change. This perception would build a community that engaged in learning.The community would encourage taking risks in learning, taking care of each other, problem solving, thinking critically and expressing their creativity.

As an educator at Sabot, I have also witnessed the power of the relationship between peers. We certainly know that this is true in the social life of a child but during my years teaching at Sabot I have witnessed the inspiration, the provocations and the challenges that are sparked by peers. The teacher may be observing, documenting, offering a variety of languages to support the representation of ideas but the learning is often occurring peer to peer----within the community of learners.

Subtle change....listen to each child, provide space for community to develop, respect their journey (it is not a race).


  1. So it sounds like he was saying that society's image of the child has to change from the view of an empty vessel that needs adults to pour in ideas and facts and right ways of doing things, to one where children are human beings who are protagonists in their own being and learning? Dang, I sure wish that would catch on!

  2. Yes, both men were inspiring!