No 41. Ken Robinson Paperclip

This 3.30 minutes video will really make you think about your teaching this new academic year. It’s all about divergent thinking and the idea that the students have developed how not to think by traditional teaching they have had in the past. It uses the example of a paperclip and poses the question “What could this paperclip be used for”? There are some really interesting ideas in this clip.

See what you think and please comment freely.


6 thoughts on “No 41. Ken Robinson Paperclip

  1. marialegault

    As a 23-year old female student living and thinking in Canada, I must say that these debates around education and the student are very intriguing. I’ve been in university for 6 years now, and I’ve gotten a lot of value out of the many learning and personal growth opportunities available to me. I see many of my professors and academic mentors as wise, caring, and supportive of my research interests.

    I feel that my ability to think rationally and deliberately about an issue has increased throughout my university career, and I completely agree with the assessment made by Larry Sanger that “when people go to school for a long time, and work hard and conscientiously, they tend to become […] possessed of better minds, than they had before, or than they would have in the absence of their education.” However, I come of employable age at a time of fiscal restraint and fluctuation; and as a consequence, I am struggling to reconcile my wonderful education with the current job market. I’ve been lucky enough to have a place to live with my parents, scholarships, and a recurring summer job opportunity that paid for my education. Many people of my age are not so lucky, and are struggling under the combined emotional weight of heavy debt and a barren job market.

    Cumulatively, the articles which critique Sir Ken Robinson add to the valuable discussion about what constitutes a proper direction for the future of education. I realize that Sir Ken himself frequently sidesteps the question of feasible action and potential solutions, which is problematic. (This article in The Globe and Mail suggests that we need to make entry into a university program more challenging:

    My two cents: any kind of higher education (be it vocational or academic) mixed with the open mind of a student and a progressive teacher will result in a net increase in learning for society and a functioning human being. These articles rarely acknowledge that learning happens both inside and outside of the classroom, and that a person can become brilliant through self-initiated endeavors and learning. What really needs to be fixed here? The economy, the job market, the global distribution of wealth. My greatest fear is that the next generation of learners will miss out on the opportunity for higher levels of education because of a legacy of debt from parents – are we really thinking this entire problem through?

  2. Walter Boomsma

    I am a fan of Ken Robinson… that doesn’t mean I will follow him off a cliff and it doesn’t mean I agree with him without question. I find plenty of face validity in his comments and I do find several things interesting.

    Many times the “conversations” around these presentations reflect a profound lack of divergent thinking and become debates defending existing positions.

    We tend towards analysis paralysis in nearly every aspect. Studying something doesn’t fix it. Criticizing Robinson does very little to improve education–in fact it actually contributes to maintaining the status quo.

    As a society, we’ve still not figured out the difference between cause and correlation. Couple that with a tendency to over simplify and you get things like: Since everyone we know with Alzheimer’s has eaten mashed potatoes, mashed potatoes must cause Alzheimber’s. If we would just ban mashed potatoes…

    Lastly, where we seem to be failing (at almost every level) is in creating a love of learning and the ability for divergent and critical thinking. Any effort to do so deserves consideration.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s