Out of our minds (Day 105/365)

It’s a Monday, and that means Masterworks practice, so instead of even trying to forge another couple of measures out of Milky Way, I sat down to dig into Out of our minds: learning to be creative, by Sir Ken Robinson.

Nice long intro about the predicament we will find ourselves in if we keep de-valuing creativity in the educational process, and then the first chapter. Sir Ken has been involved in the field for a long, long time, consulting with huge firms and individual schools alike. This book is both a summation of the research and a call for action on the part of all involved: government, business, and education.

The first chapter gives necessary background on the rate of technological change in our time, with the usual warnings about its acceleration. I was struck by the fact that he got the publication date of Future Shock wrong: he gives it as 1974, and I knew that could not be correct because Newt Gingrich taught me that book when I was a senior in high school in 1972. (That’s another story, but suffice it to say that he was a whiny, brittle, superstar-wannabe even then.) However, Out of our minds was published in 2001, so Sir Ken didn’t really have Google at his disposal to fact-check that fact.

In fact, I do wonder whether Sir Ken has any updated musings on our technological status that he’d like to share. I didn’t see any egregious man-will-never-fly howlers, but I did wonder about some of his thoughts about technological change and whether they’ve held up in the last five years.

Certainly, his statement that the college degree is becoming devalued still holds. And if his thinking about what companies say they’re looking for and what they’re actually looking for is true, then my son Grayson, for example, with his liberal arts education, will be totally prepared to be snatched up by any company forging ahead into the new economy.

Later in the book, according to his introduction, he will posit that our educational system is doing everyone damage by excluding the arts from the process, and that politicians/business leaders are “out of their minds” in raising “standards” for an outmoded academic approach. Much of this I have been working on for the last fifteen years, but I’m hoping that Sir Ken will be able to provide some documentation specifically for arts inclusion. For when I start my charter school, of course.

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