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Sir Ken Robinson at UCSB

Educator Extraordinaire Tells Campbell Hall How Learning Can Save the World

Sir Ken Robinson
Courtesy Photo

Can education save the world?

Sir Ken Robinson thinks so. He feels it’s the only thing that can.

“Civilization is a race between education and chaos”, he says, quoting H. G. Wells. And in a period of unprecedented technological, environmental, and demographic change, Sir Ken feels this has never been more true than it is right now.

Sir Ken Robinson has spent much of his adult life spreading this message wherever and whenever and to whomever he can. His 2006 and 2010 TED talks are some of the most popular videos online. Millions and millions of people have seen his videos, though he is quick to point out not nearly as many as have seen the videos of talking cats. On Tuesday evening, February 21, Sir Ken brought his message to a full house at UCSB’s Campbell Hall.

Sir Ken’s message is that a human life is organic, full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns, more like a garden than a machine, and so good education is more like gardening than it is like manufacturing. You never get it exactly right. The circumstances are always changing. You come back to it again and again. You address local conditions and variations of climate, soil, and taste. There’s no one size fits all. You identify and remove the obstacles to self-discovery. You look for where talent and interest intersect. You teach students and not curriculum. You let teachers inspire and be inspired. You stay open to surprises and possibilities.

And you watch miracles grow before your very eyes — if you’re patient enough and allow things their proper time.

You can read the books. You can watch the videos, but Sir Ken in real life, alive and kicking, funny as hell, intelligent and incisive, is worth the price of admission.

Sir Ken explains that it’s through a personal relationship between the student and the teacher that the teacher’s energy and passion is conveyed. That transmission is at the heart of a teacher’s job and calling. And that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night. Sir Ken Robinson came through loud and clear, his passion, his energy, his commitment, his belief in the power and possibility of education.

“We must think better of ourselves,” he said. “Most people have no idea of their talents and possibilities. They have no idea of what they’re capable of doing.”

We can do this. We are doing this. We don’t need to wait for permission. We can and are changing the world, Sir Ken Robinson says.

And you leave believing him.

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