Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

Creative Schools

The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education

By Ken Robinson, Ph.D.

And Lou Aronica


P. XVIII “We’re all born with immense natural talents, but by the time we’ve been very far into our education system, many of us have lost touch with these talents.”

*P. XXII “If you design a system to do something specific, don’t be surprised if it does it. If you run an education system based on standardization and conformity that suppress individuality, imagination and creativity, don’t be surprised if that’s what it does.”

P. XXIV “Whether you’re a student, an educator, a parent, an administrator, or a policy—if you’re involved in education in any way—you can be part of the change. To do that, you need three forms of understanding: acritiqueof the way things are, a visionof how they could be, and a theory of change for how to move from one to the other.”

P. XXIV “If you want to change education, it’s important to recognize what sort of system it is. It is neither monolithic nor unchanging, which is why you can do something about it.”

P. XXIV “The aims of education are to enable students to understand the world around them and the talents within them so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens.”

P. XXV “If you’re involved in education in any way you have three options: you can make changes within the system, you can press for changes to the system, or you can take initiatives outside the system.”

P. XXVI “The challenges we face on Earth are not theoretical; they are all too real and they are mostly being created by people.”

P.XXVII “The danger is not to the planet, but to the conditions of our own survival on it.”

Chapter 1: Basic to Basics

P. 3 “You’ve got to listen to what’s important to the child.”

P. 8 “Why is education such a hot political issue? The reasons are;

–Economic—Education has huge implications for economic prosperity.

–Cultural—Education is one of the main ways that communities pass on their values and traditions from one generation to next.

–Social—Education provides all students, whatever their background and circumstances, with opportunities to prosper and succeed and to become active and engaged citizens.

–Personal—Education contains ritual passages about the need for all students to realize their potential and to live fulfilled and productive lives.”

P. 19 “Unemployment is not only an economic issue; it’s a scourge that can destroy lives and whole communities.”  Children must get skills in school that are applicable and necessary for employment.

P. 20 “Education is not the only source of the income gap, but the forms of education that the ‘standards movement’ is promoting are exacerbating it. The drab nature of standardized education does little to inspire and empower those caught in poverty.”

*P. 24 “The best way to raise student motivation and expectations is to improve the quality of teaching, have a rich and balanced curriculum, and have supportive, informative system of assessment.”

Chapter 2: Changing the Metaphors

P. 33 “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

*P. 36 “The problem with conformity in education is that people are not standardized to begin with.”

P. 37 “The lives we create are the result of all sorts of currents and crosscurrents, most of which we can’t anticipate in advance.”

P. 39 “We are born with all the skills—all the basics—we need. Let’s really spend some time observing the kids in our nursery and early-years facilities and see how we can take forward what they’re doing.”

P. 41 “Education is about living people, not inanimate things. If we think of students as products or data points, we misunderstand how education should be.”

P. 44 “The emphasis in industrial education has been, and increasingly is, on outputs and yield: improving test results, dominating league tables, raising the number of graduates.”

*P. 44 “Education is really improved only when we understand that it too is a living system and that people thrive in certain conditions and not in others.”

P. 45 “What basic purpose of education should the culture of schools fulfill? In my view, there are four:

–Economic—Education should enable students to become economically responsible and independent.

–Cultural—Education should enable students to understand and appreciate their own cultures and to respect the diversity of others.

–Social—Education should enable young people to become active and compassionate citizens.

–Personal—Education should enable young people to engage with the world within them as well as the world around them.”

P. 49 “There are three cultural priorities for schools: to help students understand their own cultures, to understand other cultures, and to promote a sense of cultural tolerance and coexistence.”

P. 51 “Education is a global issue; it is also a deeply personal one. None of the other purposes can be met if we forget that education is about enriching the minds and hearts of living people.”

*P. 52 “All students are unique individuals with their own hopes, talents, anxieties, fears, passions, and aspirations. Engaging them as individuals is the heart of raising achievement.”

P. 52 “We only know the world around us through the world within us, through the senses by which we perceive it and the ideas by which we make sense of it.”

Chapter 3: Changing Schools

P. 66 “The best place to start thinking about how to change education is exactly where you are in it. If you change the experiences of education for those you work with, you can change the world for them and in doing so become part of a wider, more complex process of change in education as a whole.”

P. 70 “The fundamental work of schools is not to increase test results but to facilitate learning.”

*P. 71 “The heart of education is the relationship between the student and the teacher. Everything else depends on how productive and successful that relationship is.”

P. 72 “If students are not learning, education is not happening. Something else may be going on, but it’s not education.”

*P. 72 “A great deal of learning and education goes on outside the formal setting of schools and national curricula. It happens anywhere there are willing learners and engaging teachers. The challenge is to create and sustain those experiences within schools.”

Chapter 4: Natural Born Learners

P. 78 “For many students, the problem is not that they cannot learn but how they are required to learn.”

P. 90 “If different people learn best in different ways, they also learn at different rates.”

P. 91 “If the schedule is flexible and more personalized, it is more likely to facilitate the kind of dynamic curriculum that students now need.”

P. 93 “Good teachers know how to use a broad range of assessments.”

*P. 95 “Children are designed by nature, to play and explore on their own, independently of adults. They need freedom in order to develop; without it they suffer.”

P. 96 “Nothing that we do, no amount of toys we buy or ‘quality time’ or special training we give our children, can compensate for the freedom we take away.”

P. 96 “If the system doesn’t work, don’t blame the people in it—work with them to change it so that it does work.”

P. 96 “The people who are best placed to make the change are those who, in the right conditions, can have the most impact on the quality of learning: the teachers.”

Chapter 5: The Art of Teaching

*P. 100 “It doesn’t matter how detailed the curriculum is or how expensive the tests are; the real key to transforming education is the quality of teaching.”

P. 102 “Good teachers create the conditions for learning, and poor one don’t.”

P. 103 “There are two complementary ways of engaging students in the arts: “making”—the production of their own work; and “appraising”—understanding and appreciating the work of others.”

P. 104 “Great teachers understand that it’s not enough to know their disciplines—their job is not to teach subjects; it is to teach students.”

P. 111 “Students who are more confident of their own learning ability learn faster and learn better.”  Helping students develop a strong self-concept is critical to effective learning.

P. 113 “Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”

*P. 115 “Classrooms shouldn’t be built around passivity, and around listening to someone and taking notes. It should be learning at your pace.”

P. 118 “Creativity draws from many powers that we all have by virtue of being human. And like many human capacities, our creative powers can be cultivated and refined.”

P. 126 “Subject expertise is often essential for great teaching, but it’s never enough. The other half of great teaching is knowing how to inspire students with materials so that they actively want to, and do, learn it.”

Chapter 6: What’s Worth Knowing?

P.130 “Reaching all students is exactly what is at stake in the transformation of education.”

P. 136 “A lifelong sense of curiosity is one of the greatest gifts that schools can give their students.”

P. 137 “The development of skills in spoken languages is now, sadly and wrongly, neglected in schools—verbal communication is not only about literal meanings; it’s also about appreciating metaphor, analogy, allusion, and other poetic and literary of language.”

P. 139 “Compassion has to be practiced, not preached.”

P. 140 “Citizenship education is not about promoting conformity and status quo. It is about championing the need for equal rights, the value of dissent, and the need to balance personal freedoms with the rights of others to live in peace—it needs to be learned and practiced.”

P. 146 “Effective learning in any field is often a process of trial and error, of breakthroughs punctuated by failed attempts to find a solution.”

Chapter 7: Testing, Testing

*P. 168 “The world economy no longer pays you for what you know; Google knows everything.  The world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.”

P. 171 “Not everything important is measurable and not everything measurable is important.”

P. 171 “One problem with the systems of assessment that use letters and grades is that they are usually light on description and heavy on comparison.”

*P. 176 “Assessment and standardization is not the problem; the problem is what we choose to standardize.”

P. 179 “You need to have the skills to assess your work. You need to have the skills to assess other people’s work.”

P. 181 “Assessment should not be seen as the end of the education, in either sense.”

Chapter 8: Principles of Principals

P. 188 “Great principals know that their job is not primarily to improve test; it is to build community among the students, teachers, and staff, who need to share a common set of purposes.”

P. 191 “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us—Many of the conventional rituals of schooling are not fixed in law. Many schools are organized as they are because they always have been, not because they must be.”

P. 194 “How quickly things change will depend, in large part, on the vision of the people who run them, especially the principals, on how they set expectations, and where they draw the lines of permission.”

P. 205 “The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it is to encourage a culture where everyone has them.

Chapter 9/10: Bring it All Back Home/Changing the Climate

P. 208 “As a parent, you have an essential role in helping the schools evolve a more rounded understanding of your children’s unique qualities and capabilities.”

P. 213 “When children aren’t given the space to struggle through things on their own, they don’t learn to problem-solve very well.”

P. 218 “Family involvement is vital, but it is only possible if schools make such involvement accessible.”

P. 231 “Education should be based on the principles of health, ecology, fairness and care.”

P. 233 “The quality of education is not inevitably related to the amount of money spent on it.”

*P. 234 “One of the most powerful strategies for systemic change is to test the benefits of doing things differently.”

P. 234 “One of the rules of policymakers is to create conditions in which local innovation is actively encouraged and supported.”

P. 234 “It is essential to have high standards in schools in all areas of learning.”

*P. 255 “Effective education always ways a balance between rigor and freedom, tradition and innovation, the individual and the group, theory and practice, the inner world and the outer world.”

P. 256 “The experience of education is always personal but the issues are increasingly global.”

Priyanka Uprety