Curiosity and diversity

Upon watching a Ted Talk hosted by Ken Robinson, I was further convinced that the current form of education is broken and must be fixed. The current system implores the banking system, which Robinson would surely find ineffective. Robinson talks about the driving principals of human beings: diversity and curiosity.

When Robinson says diversity, he is referring to both humans and the education system. It is true that not all are alike, even within families. As a result, how can there only be one way of teaching? It is rare that the banking system fits perfectly for the learning style of a student, and even rarer that it works for all student. We must diversify the way that we teach students, as one method may be better for one student than the other. As Robinson points out, the difference between “the task and achievement sense of verbs.” The question is no longer if the teacher is teaching, the task, but if the students are learning, the achievement. This plays to the dominant culture of testing, but the testing should just be diagnostic. Due to this dominant culture, teachers teach the test, disallowing for creativity.

Curiosity is the driving force of human beings. It is the engine of success. However, Robinson talks about how teaching is not a delivery system, or the banking system, which contradicts this driving force. Teachers are not allowed to be creative and form a curriculum that will both provoke and engage the students, but they are forced to teach a pre-determined curriculum. This curriculum is thought of not in the classroom, but in a conference room. Due to this curriculum, teachers teach compliance, students learn compliance, and neither the student nor the teacher are able to contribute any creativity through this process.

In the end, we have a system that is suited for only a few individuals with no real alternative, and a curriculum that staunches creative thinking. Robinson talks about the dropout rates in America vs. the ones in Finland. However, these rates are incomparable. When Finland’s school administrator was asked about the dropout rate, he said “What dropout rate, why would anyone want to dropout?” Robinson concludes with an terrific metaphor. In 2004, the Valley of death, named this way due to the inability for it to foster life, experienced rain for the first time in a long period. That spring, there were flowers covering the once barren floor. It is not that the valley was unable to harbor life, but it simply wasn’t in the right climate. It’s seeds were just dormant, waiting for the proper conditions. This is the same with all organic life, and since humans are organic life forms as well, we are the same. Students struggling with school just need to be engaged in a different way.

 

2 responses to “Curiosity and diversity

  1. This is an interesting post and I completely agree with the points you have made. The diversity of the students certainly requires a flexible teaching style that can suit different learning styles. However, this is not an easy task. This requires a lot of care, time, and attention from the teachers, and sometimes the teachers are simply not motivated enough to do that. At the same time, it is also hard to foster this curiosity and a love of learning in some students.

  2. And to add some further complications to the picture: Sometimes, teachers do not have the resources to do this! There is a very prevalent discourse surrounding the “noble profession” that teachers should simply work harder to engage all their students, if they truly care about them. But teachers themselves are often overworked, unsupported, undervalued and underpaid, with too many students to feasibly accomplish this and too little time in which to do so. There are very real and very concrete obstacles to an approach that expects a multiplicity of educational styles suited to individual needs to be enacted simultaneously. (Not that it shouldn’t be something we strive for, but in good Deweyan fashion we should look realistically at what this would require.)

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