I don’t recall the exact date of the first time I came across Sir Ken Robinson but I distinctly remember the way he made me feel. I never met him in person, but it felt exactly like I had because his passion, his relentless quest to make a difference, his eloquence, humour, and his humility, despite being, as far as I am concerned, the greatest living expert on education, made him so human and relatable and he was my friend throughout some of the most uphill challenges of my life. Trying to get my fellow educational leaders to stand up against relentless measuring of children, using the tiniest measuring stick of standardised tests, was like trying to extract a tooth from a hen. Sir Ken himself said, “There’s a consistent mission in all I do. In a sentence, it’s to transform the culture of education and organisations with a richer conception of human creativity and intelligence.”
He was clear about the unpredictability for which we should try to educate our youth – 2090 will potentially be the year my granddaughter retires. In this year of 2020, we have seen that we don’t even know what next month will look like, never mind what it will be like in seventy years time and I am certain that one of the most important tasks for her parents, and me, besides loving unconditionally, is to teach her to manage constant change, to encourage her to try and fail, to place importance on her mental well-being by pointing out the essential need for play, for art, for self-care, for the richest conception of her humanness.
In his speeches and presentations, he illustrated, always with humour and to the delight of his audiences, that children are exceptional but not one is an exception; they need time to move, time to dance, time to create, time to try out, time to appreciate their diverse, dynamic and distinct talent and intelligence.
Kids will instinctively take a chance on being wrong, as long as we don’t educate this trait out of them – you have to be prepared to be wrong in order to take a chance on getting it right, of coming up with something original and that is a tenet by which I think we all should live. If we are afraid of error, if we are afraid of change we will never try anything new. Our bodies are not simply the transport systems for our heads to move from one meeting to the next and our education system should not be a protracted drawn out preparation for university entrance – it should be education for life in all its colourful and challenging glory.
Sir Ken Robinson left our earthly realms yesterday but I for one will do my utmost to ensure that his inspiration and legacy lives on by promoting all arts and children’s creative capacity for the richness that they hold. Today, I will dance in his honour.
And, always, I will celebrate children for the hope that they are…
RIP Sir Ken