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  • Every country on earth, at the moment,

  • is reforming public education.

  • There are two reasons for it.

  • The first of them is economic.

  • People are trying to work out

  • how do we educate our children

  • to take their place in the economies of 21st century,

  • How do we do that?

  • Given that we can't anticipate

  • what the economy would look like

  • at the end of next week,

  • as the recent turmoil is demonstrating.

  • How do we do that?

  • The second one though is cultural.

  • Every country on earth is trying to figure out

  • how do we educate our children

  • so that they have a sense of cultural identity

  • so that we

  • can pass on the cultural genes of our communities

  • while being a part of the process of globalisation.

  • How do we square that circle?

  • The problem is they are trying to meet the future

  • by doing what they did in the past.

  • On the way they are alienating millions of kids

  • who don't see any purpose in going to school.

  • When we went to school,

  • we were kept there with a story

  • which was if you worked hard and did well

  • and got a college degree,

  • you would have a job.

  • Our kids don't believe that.

  • And they are right not to, by the way.

  • You are better having a degree than not.

  • But it's not a guarantee anymore.

  • And particularly not if the route to it marginalises

  • most things you think are important about yourself.

  • Some people say we have to raise standards

  • as if this is a breakthrough.

  • Like really? Yes, we should.

  • Why would you lower them?

  • I haven't come across an argument that

  • persuades me alluringly.

  • But raise them? Of course, we should raise them.

  • The problem is

  • that the current system of education

  • was designed and conceived and structured

  • for a different age.

  • It was conceived

  • in the intellectual culture of the Enlightenment.

  • And in the economic circumstances

  • of the Industrial Revolution.

  • Before the middle of the 19th century,

  • there were no systems of public education.

  • Not really.

  • You could get educated by the Jesuits

  • if you had the money.

  • But public education paid for from taxation,

  • compulsory to everybody,

  • and free at the point of delivery.

  • That was a revolutionary idea.

  • And many people objected to it.

  • They said

  • It's not possible for many street kids,

  • working class children

  • to benefit from public education.

  • They are incapable of learning to read and write

  • Why are we spending time on this?

  • So they are all sort of built into it.

  • A whole series of assumptions

  • about social structure and capacity

  • It was driven by the economic imperative of the time.

  • But running right through it,

  • was an intellectual model of the mind.

  • which was essentially

  • the Enlightenment view of intelligence.

  • That real intelligence consists in

  • capacity of certain type of deductive reasoning,

  • and the knowledge of the classics originally

  • what we come to think of as academic ability.

  • And this is deep in the gene pool of public education

  • There are two types of people.

  • Academic and non-academic.

  • Smart people and non-smart people.

  • And the consequence of that is

  • that many brilliant people think they are not.

  • Because they are being judged

  • against this particular view of the mind.

  • So we have twin pillars

  • Economic and intellectual

  • And my view is

  • that this model has caused chaos

  • in many people's lives

  • It's been great for some.

  • There have been people

  • who have benefitted wonderfully from it.

  • But most people have not.

  • Intead they suffered this.

  • This is the modern epidemic.

  • And it's as misplaced

  • and it's as fictitious.

  • This is the plague of ADHD.

  • Now this is a map of instances of ADHD in America.

  • Or the prescription for ADHD.

  • Don't mistake me.

  • I don't mean to say that there is no such thing as

  • Attention Deficit Disorder.

  • I am not qualified to say that there is such a thing.

  • I know that a great majority of

  • psychologists and pediatricians

  • think that there is such a thing.

  • But it's still a matter of debate.

  • What I do know for a fact is

  • that it's not an epidemic.

  • These kids are being medicated as routinely

  • as we had our tonsils taken out.

  • And on the same whimsical basis

  • and for the same reason, medical fashion.

  • Our children are living

  • in the most intensely stimulating period

  • in the history of the Earth.

  • They are being beseiged with information

  • and calls for their attention from every platform.

  • computers,

  • from iPhones,

  • from advertising hoardings,

  • from hundreds of television channels.

  • And we are penalising them now,

  • for getting distracted.

  • From what?

  • Boring stuff.

  • At school, for the most part.

  • It seems to me that it's not a coincidence totally.

  • that the incidence of ADHD has risen

  • in parallel with the growth of standardised testing.

  • Now these kids are being given

  • Ritilin and Adderall and all manner of things,

  • often quite dangerous drugs.

  • to get them focussed and calm them down.

  • But according to this, Attention Deficit Disorder

  • increases as you travel east across the country.

  • People start losing interest in Oklahoma,

  • they can hardly think straight in Arkansas,

  • and by the time they get to Washington

  • they've lost it completely.

  • And there are separate reasons for that, I believe.

  • It's a fictitious epidemic.

  • If you think of it, the arts,

  • and I don't say this exclusively of the arts.

  • I think it's also true of science.

  • and of maths.

  • But let me

  • I say about the arts particularly

  • because they are victims of this mentality currently.

  • Particularly.

  • The arts,

  • especially address the idea of aesthetic experience.

  • An aesthetic experience is

  • one in which your senses are operating at their peak.

  • When you are present in the current moment,

  • When you are resonating with the excitement

  • of this thing that you are experiencing.

  • When you are fully alive.

  • An anaesthetic is when you shut your senses off.

  • And deaden yourself to what's happening.

  • And a lot of these drugs are that.

  • We are getting our children through education

  • by anaesthetising them.

  • And I think we should be doing the exact opposite.

  • We shouldn't be putting them to sleep.

  • We should be waking them up.

  • to what they have inside of themselves.

  • But the model we have is this.

  • I believe we have a system of education

  • that is modeled on the interests of Industrialism

  • and in the image of it.

  • I will give you a couple of examples.

  • Schools are

  • still pretty much organized on factory lines.

  • So ringing bells,

  • separate facilities,

  • specialised inter-separate subjects.

  • We still educate children by batches.

  • We put them through the system by age group.

  • Why do we do that?

  • Why is there this assumption that

  • the most important thing kids have in common

  • is how old they are.

  • It's like the most important thing about them

  • is their date of manufacture.

  • Well I know kids who are much better than other kids

  • at the same age and different disciplines.

  • Or different times of the day.

  • Or better in smaller groups than in large groups.

  • Or sometimes they want to be on their own.

  • If you are interested in the model of learning,

  • you don't start from this production line mentality.

  • It's essentially about conformity

  • and increasingly it's about that.

  • as you look at the growth of standardised testing

  • and standardised curricula,

  • and it's about standardisation.

  • I believe we got to go in the exact opposite direction.

  • That's what I mean by changing the paradigm.

  • There is a great study done recently,

  • of divergent thinking,

  • published couple of years ago,

  • Divergent thinking isn't the same thing as creativity.

  • I define creativity

  • as the process of having original ideas,

  • that have value.

  • Divergent thinking isn't a synonym.

  • But it's an essential capacity for creativity.

  • It's the ability

  • to see lots of possible answers to a question.

  • Lots of possible ways of interpreting a question.

  • To think what Edward de Bono would call "laterally",

  • to think not just in linear or convergent ways.

  • To see multiple answers not one.

  • I mean, there are tests for this.

  • One kind of cod example would be

  • People might be asked to say,

  • How many uses can you think of for a paper clip?

  • Routine questions.

  • Most people might come up with 10 or 15.

  • People who are good at this might come up with 200.

  • And they do that by saying well,

  • could the paper clip be 200 ft tall

  • and made out of foam rubber?

  • Does it have to be paper clip as we know it, Jim?

  • Now there are tests for this.

  • They gave them to 1,500 people

  • in a book called Break Point & Beyond,

  • and on the protocol of the test,

  • if you scored above a certain level,

  • you would be considered genius at divergent thinking.

  • OK?

  • So my question to you is,

  • what percentage of the people tested of the 1500

  • scored genius level for divergent thinking?

  • And you need to know one more thing about them.

  • These were kindergarden children.

  • So what do you think?

  • What percentage genius level?

  • 80%? Thank you.

  • 80%. OK.

  • 98%.

  • Now the thing about this was that

  • it was a longitudinal study.

  • So they retested the same children 5 years later.

  • Age of 8 to 10.

  • What do you think? 50%?

  • They retested them again 5 years later.

  • Ages 13 to 15.

  • You can see a trend here, can't you?

  • Now, this tells an interesting story.

  • Because you could've imagined it going the other way, couldn't you?

  • You start off not being very good,

  • but you get better as you get older.

  • But this shows two things.

  • One is we all have this capacity.

  • and two, it mostly deteriorates.

  • And now a lot of things

  • have happened to these kids as they have grown up.

  • A lot.

  • One of the most important things that happen to them

  • I am convinced that,

  • by now, they've become educated.

  • They spent 10 years in