My Tribute to Sir Ken Robinson

October 26, 2020

Sir Ken Robinson was a man who understood at a deep level what it means to be 'successful'. Not only did he experience it for himself, but he spent his life promoting a passion-based approach to life - particularly in the sphere of education. Sir Ken observed that schools are where you would expect to find young people exploring and discovering their hidden inner talents, but lamented that this was rarely the case.

Today's podcast is a tribute to the recently departed Sir Ken Robinson. To the amazing life he has lived, and the wonderful work he has done, especially in education.

Obviously Sir Ken had done a lot for education in the UK before 2006 (they don't hand around those 'Sir' titles to everyone!) but for me, I'd never heard of him. For me, he bloomed into notoriety with his amazing off the cuff TED address entitled "Do schools kill creativity?" Sir Ken posited that creativity is as important as literacy, and explained a lot about the hierarchy of education and about it coming from the industrial era—something I constantly cited in my own academic work.

His work perfectly explained how schools are a microcosm of society's broader power structures, reflects the way industrial paradigm schools have not changed and operate in this old industrial mentality while the rest of us have moved on. Governments have failed to make the transition but Sir Ken was someone who just 'got it'. He fully understood what needs to happen, what the education revolution should be about and he articulated it in a succinct way that inspired millions.

Sir Ken also was able to capture and describe the essence of living a full life - what he called 'The Element. As a coach this resonates so strongly with me and I love how he brings these 2 ideas together - living a rich, fulfilled life AND education as the training ground for it. That's EXACTLY what we're all about here at the Blueprint.

After listening to this podcast and his work, you'll recognise that we don't have to stay in the old industrial paradigm and an outdated social script. There are better ways to do things!

Identity, designing your own maximise life, the essence of success, empowering our creative spirits, having purpose and impact, and scaling that to create a better society using education. Sir Ken was just able to sum a lot of these deep foundational principles and talk about those in the context of education - something that everyone recognises is important.

Sir Ken was a hero of mine, a kindred spirit, someone I look forward to meeting in heaven and having the opportunity to sit down and talk with someday.

To Sir Ken: 

Thank you for what you have done for the way we think about ourselves and humanity. You're an amazing man! It's such a blessing that we now have the opportunity to listen to the great resources you have left behind.

Over the past 15 years since that initial TEDtalk, Sir Ken has written amazing books, including my favourite, The Element, and produced invaluable resources for educators and parents.

I've put together a free downloadable 'best of' list of these resources to share with you.

My Tribute to Sir Ken Robinson available along with this podcast.

Let's listen to some of it...

Here's the highlights:

  • [05:17] Education, in a way, dislocates many people from their natural talents. Human resources are like natural resources, often buried very deep. You have to create the circumstances where they show themselves. Education should be that way, but too often it's not.

  • [06:33] Reform is no use anymore because that's simply improving a broken model. What we need is not evolution but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else.

  • [07:04] The problem is that the current system of education was designed, conceived, and structured for a different age—intellectual culture of the Enlightenment and in the economic circumstances of the Industrial Revolution. It was built into a series of assumptions about social structure and capacity.

  • [09:22] Story of Julien: There were people who have to move to think but were otherwise thought to be sick.

  • [11:09] Human life is not linear; you can't plan it like a production line. The problem is our education systems are planned like one, developed in the interest of the international manufacturing system. The best investment is to encourage all the different talents that are there.

  • [12:19] We make scandalous misuse of people's abilities. Evidence is everywhere— people disengaged, detached, disaffected. But when people connect with who they really are, the whole story shifts.

  • [12:39] There's been a long-term crisis in our ways of life—all of these are connected with our neglect of our natural world.

  • [13:04] Education is not a mechanical system, it's a human system. It's about people. Every student who drops out of school has a reason for it rooted in their own biography.

  • [14:10] People flourish when the culture is right. Successful schools don't focus on output, they focus on the culture—the culture of compassion, collaboration, empathy, valuing of individuals, and the necessity of our social lives thriving through our join