The derivative of no change is zero.

Posted by Sergio on Oct 16, 2015

Ken Robinson holds the belief that the education system in place across most of the world is archaic, reflecting ideas prominent in the Industrial Revolution. He suggests that the education system is in place to preserve the economic and cultural interests of a country.

On the matter of Kens first point, not only does this view of teaching stem from Enlightenment ideas but it also uses methods akin with the time, namely exam papers and textbooks. While these are not bad resources we should not overstate their value and assume they hold the keys to education. In a world where everything else has been immersed in technology you have to hold education to the same standard. Currently the curriculum does not encourage the use of technology as much of the exam makes use of outdated mathematical methods and these innovative tools are left to the discretion of teachers and departments. When we hold teaching in the past as Ken Robinson suggests we are effectively giving the equivalent of a black and white film every lesson and expecting students to stay engaged.

Students expect a different standard of teaching in line with the world outside of school. Indeed technology utilized correctly leads to more versatile learning. My secondary school made mathematical software and graphical calculators freely available to our classes and it allowed students the ability to check and test their answers in seconds. This was particularly useful for students who didn’t like asking teachers for help outside of class because we could access this software from the library or use graphical calculators at home. Ken Robinson suggests that the education system is there to preserve the cultural and economic interests of a country. The fact that every sector of society has been improved by technology and education is still lagging behind is worrying if this is the case.

I can identify with Ken Robinson’s point about students having different needs and learning styles. For myself exams have proved very difficult because of the high stress that accompanies them. I’ve also met many students who prefer to work in groups and collaborate and don’t have high confidence with textbooks or standardized tests. Certainly some students can also suffer bad luck and be given unfavorable questions or have circumstances that inhibit their full ability. Naturally I’ve always thought that hundreds of hours of work and countless questions should not be assessed with a mere 25.

However I disagree with Ken that students should not be set by age. On the one hand I’ve been in many year 7 or 8 classes who have stronger mathematical ability than some year 11 classes so I can appreciate where he is coming from. However I believe the benefit of setting by age (and also ability) is that students don’t have to feel humiliated or discouraged if they have lower mathematical ability than someone younger.

Overall I agree with Ken Robinson that there are faults with the curriculum and standardized testing. The majority of advancements in technology and human understanding has happened in the last 30 years and yet the education system still uses the same examination system and curriculum that I believe should be reviewed.


  1. pepsmccrea
    26 October 2015

    Very measured first thinkpiece. You have clearly engaged with Ken’s ideas, and have reflected on how these link with your own experiences. Good to see you finding things you disagree with too.

    For future thinkpieces, make sure you engage with both the video and the article…

  2. pepsmccrea
    26 October 2015

    PS. A great title – I was hoping for you to elaborate on it a bit more!

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