Educational adviser and New York Times best-selling author Sir Ken Robinson will discuss his newest book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative at 8 p.m. tonight in Campbell Hall, arguing that Western culture’s existing education paradigm must shift to accommodate the challenges of learning and getting a career in the 21st century.
Robinson’s presentation, hosted by UCSB Arts & Lectures, will expand on his view that creativity is undervalued and suppressed in modern school systems. Robinson served on the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, led an effort to promote peace in Northern Ireland and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.
A&L Associate Director Roman Baratiak said Robinson’s work highlights the limitations governments place on children’s creative development with standardized tests and other educational tools.
“Much of his focus has been on education, and his critique of it has been that much of it stifles creativity, particularly amongst children,” Baratiak said. “In early years of schooling there tends to be encouragement of creativity and [students are] self-motivated to have all sorts of ideas, but as they progress through the school system it gets squashed, especially after things that come from government, like standardized thinking.”
First-year biology major Elizabeth Dang said her experiences with standardized testing demonstrate how the American school system’s goals are disconnected from its purpose of education.
“I paid a ridiculous amount of money for SAT classes so that I could get a good score on the test to obviously get into a good college,” Dang said. “What’s most ridiculous is that SAT questions aren’t really hard, they’re just worded confusingly. So I basically paid all that money to learn tricks just to understand what the questions were asking. I never really learned anything worthwhile other than that.”
First-year chemistry major Paige Rutten said the abundance of technological distractions impairs concentration in classroom settings.
“Everyone is always on their laptop or iPhone or iPod these days,” Rutten said. “It takes a lot more to sustain our information than it did generations ago.”
Western educational systems must adapt to serve their purpose in a technologically-saturated society, Baratiak said.
“We live in a very fast-paced world; children are bombarded by all sorts of messages,” Baratiak said. “When [students] get to school, everything suddenly slows down and they become bored. We need to learn how to keep students engaged.”
According to Baratiak, Robinson’s lecture could inspire attendees to reevaluate their educational choices in college.
“Because [students] have the ability in a university setting to explore ideas and select different kinds of courses or areas of study, hopefully [Robinson’s lecture] will let them look at what they’re doing with their lives with a fresh set of eyes,” Baratiak said.