The Learning Revolution is already happening Sir Ken!

Sir Ken Robinson gave a popular talk at the TED conference in 2006 titled “Schools kill creativity.” He has just released his latest TED talk, “Bring on the learning revolution!”, and I have embedded it below for you to enjoy.

Sir Ken, an expert on creativity and the author of The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is championing ideas that unschoolers, homeschoolers, and alternative schoolers have been acting upon for decades (I’ll refer to all these groups as “homeschoolers” for the rest of the article), as this summary indicates:

It’s not about scaling a new solution. It’s about creating a movement in education in which people develop their own solutions but with external support based on a personalized curriculum… technologies combined with the extraordinary talents of teachers provide an opportunity to revolutionize education and I urge you to get involved in it. Because it is vital not just to ourselves, but to the future of our children. But we have to change from an Industrial model to an agricultural model, where each school can be flourishing tomorrow; that’s where children experience life or at home if that’s where children choose to be educated with their family and their friends.

It is refreshing to hear someone with influence support homeschooling, even if ever so delicately, but this support is inevitable given Sir Ken’s thesis that personalized education is the coming revolution. After all, what can be a more personalized education than homeschooling? Every day, for decades now, many homeschoolers have developed their own solutions to create personalized curricula, often using external support; this external support is typically not a public school, but rather a fellow homeschooler, private business or for-profit school.

It is easy for me to be jaded about Sir Ken’s ideas: after all Paul Goodman, Ivan Illich, John Holt, and many others I read or have known have said similar things in their works decades ago, and look how much more intense and unfulfilling school has become for children since they wrote. Indeed, I recall that the agricultural versus industrial metaphor was also used by Holt and others long ago, so why am I enthusiastic about Sir Ken’s version of this argument?

Because he is talking to a very influential and international audience of “thinkers and doers” who actually applaud his comments, rather than react with calls to further support conventional school by outlawing alternatives, such as homeschooling (see my posts about Germany, Great Britain, and Sweden to read how some countries are responding to “the learning revolution” in a negative fashion). As these ideas gain acceptance by elite social groups and businesses not only will homeschooling become a mainstream option for more families, but the entire concept of learning as something people willingly do throughout their lives, instead of learning as something we must compel young people to do, will also begin to take root for more people.