How to Change Education from the Ground Up


Recently I attend a talk by Sir Ken Robinson, it was focused on the current education system and how it should be changed to make it more suitable for the 21st century. I was drawn to this event for two reasons, one because of the big influence his previous RSA talk had on the London Youth Involvement Project during its middle phase.

Secondly it was the chance to look at the education system from a different point of view, we often focus on trying to change education from a national level but this talk was looking at how it should be built up from the ground up rather than a top down approach.

Sir Ken Robinson started by saying that the government is too focused on getting as many children into the top universities, this leads to confusion around intelligence and academic capability. This aspiration is false, we can’t all go to university and many people do not want to, it’s then drilled into you that if you don’t go to university you’re a waste. We should support young people to explore different aspirations at school not just ones that boost school league tables.

Due to the nature of politics, elected officials have a very short time to see change and often only care about what can be achieved in their terms of office. This means they can be quite resistant to change, so that is why it’s vital that WE do things differently so they follow us.

He also touched on the fact that we focus on STEM principles at school but this leaves other areas neglected and we should focus on Economics, Culture, Social and Participation. This really struck a chord with me as we often argue for a more rounded approach to education, especially in the drugs and alcohol field.

The main focus of the talk was the support and respect we need to give to teachers, if we empowering them and stop this system of ‘factory working’ for tests then we won’t waste all this potential of young people.

The quality of teaching and learning – that’s what matters, structure is much less important; central government is too focused on bureaucracy of schools and buildings rather than the quality of lessons.

I did not agree with everything that Sir Ken Robinson said but I thought it was an interesting take on education and I am fully supportive of the focus on quality of lessons. At Mentor we have focused on schools and teachers but maybe now is the time to build up a host of quality lessons on drugs and alcohol that we can deliver in schools.


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