Recently, I read an article on education and entrepreneurship where the writer, Geoff Weiss, uses Sir Ken Robinson’s analogy to argue the fault line with poor entrepreneurial spirit. In his argument he quotes the English philosopher, Sir Ken Robinson, who argues that ‘man’s most fundamental problem is: imagination’.
An evolved notion of creativity, according to Robinson, is humanity’s defining trait which allows us to examine the past as well as anticipate the future and to constantly reinvent our lives. But many of us have lost touch with an imaginative outlook.
To more fully tap into this part of ourselves, Robinson argues we must take issue with the state of our educational system - which he says “employs 21st century technology, but with a 19th century mind-set.” It hasn’t changed much since its inception and tends to marginalize our best gifts.
According to Robinson; there are three ways in which the education system needs to change in order to foster the kind of entrepreneurial thinking that is crucial to the success - and survival:
The need to revitalise pupils, parents and teachers
You cannot renew a factory, a shop or a school; as the late Professor Sumantra Ghoshal once said, without renewing the people. Technology is important, clearly all those other factors which we consider important are important, but at the end of the day, perhaps the most vibrant element is people. You cannot change an organisation without revitalising its people.
Revitalising people is an attitudinal change. People's attitudes around education have to change. There is a new word now and the new word is 'mind set change.' Much more important to revitalising people is changing the context that the system creates around people. I hope the points hereunder will explain what I mean by ‘context’.
The education system, up to now, emphasises conformity.
While human life flourishes on the prospect of diversity, schools often box us into predetermined curricula that can feel both impractical and stale. Teachers, the education department and parents create great strategies. Scholars are expected to work very hard - eight hours a day. They – teachers and parents - take all the decisions so that scholars know exactly what needs to be done. They make scholars to study subjects that don’t help them in the grand scheme of what they would ultimately like to accomplish. Schools act like machines, like prize standardization, when people are far more complicated than that.
All the systems created are totally justified and only mean that scholars have to comply.
Emphasis on compliance.
Whereas teachers follow regimens to curb disobedience, real energy comes from creativity and diversion. All those systems hang like a black cloud over scholars. So they start ask themselves; why does my teacher exist? Not just the teacher, but the principal, why does the entire education infrastructure exist? As far as they are concerned, they exist for one reason and one reason alone - to control.
An emphasis on discipline can yield harrowing statistics: about half of high school students don’t even finish school.
Emphasis on a linear path.
Our educational system operates under the assumption that everyone should follow the same path - from primary, higher primary, high school through to university - when, in fact, life is composed organically, moment by moment. Some of the most celebrated business luminaries, such as Richard Branson and Steve Jobs among them, did not graduate from college.
Innovation is never linear!
For an example; Kodak, for instance, was thought as the iPad of its day but is now bankrupt - its cameras more likely to be found in a museum than in common use. Eventually, the iPad will become a former vestige, too.
Based on personal experience and little understanding, what I believe to be the real challenge for the education system is that there is too much of constraint, control and conformity ambience. One cannot win the education game on the strength of technology, scale or government policy. These are essential, and vitally important. But winning is possible only on the basis of the individual, initiative, work and energy.
The real challenge of any education system is to recognise and employ the untapped ability that each young person brings every day. I strongly believe our education system can make ordinary people produce extraordinary results.
If, as visionary writer H.G. Wells put it, “civilization is a race between education and catastrophe,” every day is an opportunity to learn something new. But in order to triumph, it is crucial to tap into our innate powers. Robinson says: “Creativity is putting imagination to work, and innovation is putting good ideas into practice.”