Hi, all. Just read Sir Ken's The Element (think: being in one's element) mostly about how individuals have found and do find their passion, but also a lot about school. The last chapter, "Making the Grade," is all about what schools need to be in order to help children find their particular intelligence. I would love to hear everybody's reactions to his message are. They seem "spot on" to me (in keeping with the author's British origins).

What Robinson doesn't talk/write about much is the role of technology in education, but he can be forgiven that, I think, because it's one of many enablers in the many paths he describes of finding one's unique intelligence/gift. But when I mash up what he writes (particularly on pp. 116 & 117 in "Finding Your Tribe") with what I'm hearing from tech educators with the findings of Mimi Ito, et al, of the Digital Youth Project (see my coverage with links http://www.netfamilynews.org/2008/06/how-teens-use-social-network-s...), I get really excited about how powerful social media can be in and outside of school in enabling youth to find and be in their element. Would like others' thoughts on this.

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Jonassen (2008) has discouraged the perception of technologies as merely tools for the learners; instead he argues that meaningful learning could be achieved when these technologies are associated with the learners’ explorative quest of knowledge through conversation, collaboration, construction and reflection. Apparently, education in the past is more focused on the basic skills in reading , writing and arithmetic , in contrast to the kind of education in our present times where it is paying attention on general capabilities such as learning to learn in order to deal with the predictable technological change (Roblyer 2006).

In view of the statements stated above, I would say that online social networking is indeed a powerful tool to reckon. If harnessed sensibly, it could bring one to greater heights of learning experience. On the other hand, if such is misused for selfish reasons, I doubt the impact it would bring. Thus I strongly support a learning community that promotes individual's personal development and societal transformation.
In light of your comment, Enrique, I think it's important to mention "social media" by no means means strictly social-network sites, though the definition can include them. Social media include wikis, blogs, virtual worlds, massively multiplayer online games, mobile phone apps, and so on - really any device or technology that enables collaborative learning, or connectivity within, as you put it so well, a learning community. But the beauty of social media is that they free the community from being restricted to a single geographic location. Does that make sense?
I am with you on that regard. In fact , I am immersing myself into this "social media" thing. I just started doing this stuff . I am enjoying and learning :)
I read the book a while ago and found it an interesting combination of some topics covered in self-help books mixed in with issues about institutional education and education reform. This covers issues that affect people in their early childhood years right through to adults throughout their lives.

The core of the book; Robinson argues that our education system works against most people finding their element and is passionate and persuasive in his calls for educational reform. He explain with the examples and anecdotes serving as evidence of the failure of the current system. He also explores the place of creativity, and the arts, in an educational hierarchy which, generally, places sciences at the top and the arts as a poorer second. Even within the arts, he argues, there are still hierarchies. This embedded structure in education mitigates the capacity for many of us to use our formal education as a means of exploration where we can try out many, and eventually discover, our own true ‘element’.

This book sits nicely with Malcolm Gladwell’s latest, “Outliers” (2008) where Gladwell argues in a similar vein that success is due, mostly, from luck, circumstance and openness to new ideas.

If there is any lack to Robinson’s book I would say it is in the area of ‘how to’. Although lots of clues have been give but there is little practical advice as to how to discover your own ‘element’. The reader hoping for more precise instructions or action plan will be disappointed. However, it is still advised to anyone, who has any responsibility for education – their own or of others, to read this book and incorporate its learnings into their own practice.

Also, I agree with you that it has not addressed the new dimensions of social media, which is definitely playing its role in nurturing and creativity of one's life.

I work with an organization which provides consultancy and support to organizations, mostly educational, to incorporate online education or work as online schools. I would agree with Robinson to some extent that our educational system doesn't promote creativity and that our educational system has some flaws. Well, everyone has its own point. I believe that one must not wait for things to happen or in Robinson's language wait for 'the element'; one should work hard and keep on exploring opportunities for self development and progress. I got the same education like others but what if I get my 'element' now.

Well thanks for the nice subject.
Anne, you ask two questions. First, I learned about Ken Robinson by watching his TED Talk (http://bit.ly/2tkgtH) and was thrilled to learn of his views on education. They were similar in some respects to those that brought about the All New Public Education project (http://www.allnewpubliceducation.com), but he stopped short of telling us how he wanted to bring about the change he advocates. Is that covered in his book? He has not responded to efforts to contact him to enlist his support and input to the ANPE effort, any ideas?

As for SM in education, oh yes! Social media is the natural progression of offline human interaction and desire to learn meeting global connectivity technology. Education is a perfect use of crowdsourcing to search out sources, ideas, results, and meld individual efforts into a group result. The growing capability to exchange rich multimedia in real time will yield exciting results. Imagine a video presentation of a physics research project developed by 6 students in 3 states and 4 countries - over the course of a weekend. All 6 contribute, all 6 turn in the video for their respective physics classes. In the process, all learn more about each other and their respective environments.

The recent challenges to our economy are going to drive a lot of people of all ages to re-educate themselves and the older generations will benefit from the youth's fascination with staying connected and all the tools that have been driven by that desire.

Nice work in NFN, too!
Thanks for your reply, Stephen. He's a great speaker, isn't he? So funny (a friend of his told me once that he's great friends with John Cleese, which makes sense, doesn't it?)! I heard him give an hour-long keynote recently, and you wanted him to go on for 2 hours. Anyway, in his book, The Element, that I was referring to, he doesn't really offer a prescription for how to fix factory-model education (besides making the arts as important as math, science, etc. and creativity as important as literacy), but the very last chapter, "Making the Grade," has some examples of schools - and programs in schools - that really cut it. I'd love to hear what educators think about those schools and programs, whether they can be widely implemented.

I don't actually know how anybody could disagree with him about what's happened with school (and in your great blog I see others are saying similar things). As for social media, I really believe that their broad, appropriate implementation - throughout the curriculum and supported with instruction in citizenship (online and offline) and new media literacy - is the key to making school relevant to social media's most fluent practitioners (youth!). Henry Jenkins (formerly of MIT, soon to be of USC) has morphed the term "digital divide" into the much more relevant "participation gap," and I worry that schools, by continuing to fear and block social media, will soon start widening - not just failing to close - the participation gap.
If you look at the effect of social media on a generational level, you can see the shift in values and lifestyle. Gen Z (the generation of people living in Western or First World cultures, born from the late 1990s through the 2000s) are all about staying active, engaged, and entertained. At the forefront of this generation, we're seeing a highly creative and expressionistic group of teens who enjoy expressing themselves through personal media creation and content creation (personal websites, blogging, social networks etc.), along with other things like music and art. In this sense, I think social media is a powerful utility in allowing kids to explore interests, skills, as well as their own identity on a public platform where they feel they are being recognized and can exchange ideas and information with a diverse pool of people.


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