Part 1: Sir Ken Robinson I first heard of Ken Robinson back in ’08 when I was sharing TED Talks with my Academic Writing classes and my Media, Culture and Society troupe. For the most part, neither set of suburban youth was really lit on fire by the Creativity Expert from across the Pond, but to be fair, when I shared the same Talks with my Sophomore Endeavor students the following year, there was a small but measurable reaction—and positive at that. I cannot recall if Ken came to me or if I discovered him among the tags (Education, Creativity) on the TED Talks website—which is, I have to say, extremely ADD-inducing. But whatever method it may have been, once Ken Robinson was in, he was going to be hard-pressed to find his way out of my head.
Ken was not proposing solutions; rather, he was posing scenarios in which we are allowing our youth to live beneath their potential. What he presented were entries, beginnings, and tunnels that stretched a hundred miles deep and many journeys in length—right into what I knew would be my life’s pursuit, if not my soul’s endeavor. I sensed that my life held something greater in store for me. And I knew, too, the truth of the old adage: Good is the Enemy of Great. In a sense, the ideas and concepts he shared in his Talks were—are—the very things that had been taking root in my own mind back before I became a teacher. He talked sense; he talked truth.
He was unafraid of pointing out the great ills of our system, and of our good intentions. Watching him, it was as if my dichotomous heart broke and soared over and again: I listened as he explained to an educated, bright, influential audience the perils of locking a child’s potential up in a classroom filled with curriculum and expecting that child to soar. Not only had I seen this in my youth, experienced the great divide between the Honors Students and the Shop Students, but I unwittingly became part of it when I accepted my first job at a huge suburban high school. In a sense, I was both exonerated and annoyed. This social divide between the creators and the moneymakers had caused me such grief, such strife, and such friction on my education journey that I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear there was a better way, or even that someone agreed with me; it would be too painful. And yet, there was much to learn here (and according to my Masters Degree program, I am a lifelong learner). I longed to hear more, and yet I was tired of hearing it: I wanted to be the one saying it.