From the moment he began his first TED Talk some 13 years ago, there was something unmistakably different about Robinson.
That talk has since been viewed over 74 million times and has struck a chord with countless people around the world. No doubt many teachers have had family or friends approach them with the video open on their phone: “Have you seen this?”
You likely have. If not, we’ve included it here, along with four other less well known talks by the education giant.
If you’ve got an itching for inspiration, and you can’t wait for Robinson’s much-anticipated talk at next month’s EduTECH conference, we’ve got you covered.
5. Do schools kill creativity?
The speech that started it all. This is Robinson’s first TED Talk – in fact, it’s one of the first TED Talks ever.
It remains the most viewed video on the TED website, and for good reason. In it, Robinson outlines his revolutionary views on education for the first time.
Schools crush brilliant, creative kids, he contends. They are outdated institutions, built to meet the needs of 19th century industrialism, designed around a hierarchy of subjects that needlessly privileges maths and English over arts and humanities.
Robinson is very funny throughout, but his message is powerful and it resonated with millions of people.
4. RSA ANIMATE: Changing Education Paradigms
In 2010, RSA Animate created this animation to accompany one of Robinson’s talks.
Robinson is more detailed and specific here than in his TED Talks – he is also more controversial.
In this video, Robinson outlines his views on the “fictitious epidemic” of ADHD. The disorder is overdiagnosed and overmedicated due to medical fashion, Robinson says. He claims that Ritalin and Adderall are dangerous drugs and that ADHD, at least in most cases, is simply a natural response by children to a crushingly boring education system organised along factory lines.
Robinson also discusses the disturbing trend of children’s divergent thinking skills vanishing as they move through the school system and proposes a rethink of how we view intelligence.
3. Bring on the learning revolution!
In this hugely anticipated follow up to his 2006 TED Talk, Robinson calls for a revolution.
“Reform is no use any more, because that’s simply improving a broken model,” he says.
“What we need, and the word’s been used many times in the course of the past few days, is not evolution but a revolution in education. This has to be transformed into something else.”
Robinson says that humanity is experiencing a second crisis alongside climate change, one that is every bit as severe and must be dealt with with the same urgency.
It’s a crisis of human resources, he says. Due to outdated ideas about intelligence, Robinson says that we are wasting the talents and abilities of countless people that don’t fit into the mould of academic intelligence.
2. How to escape education's death valley
A Brit living in Los Angeles, Robinson has tended to talk in general terms about education, rarely honing in on specific countries.
Here, he talks specifically about the American education system, specifically the ill-fated No Child Left Behind Act – destined to be scrapped two years after Robinson’s talk.
He also spends a lot of time focussing on teachers in this talk. Teachers are the lifeblood of schools, he says, and teaching is at its heart a creative profession.
On Finland, Robinson says that a key reason for the country’s educational success is the high status teachers are given socially.
He finishes with a memorable spiel on Death Valley, California, and the “seeds of possibility” lying dormant in schools.
1. Sir Ken Robinson (still) wants an education revolution
This is not a video. Strictly speaking, It’s not a talk either – rather, the most recent entry on our list is an in-depth interview Robinson did on the TED podcast.
Over the course of an hour, Robinson’s ideas are explored in a conversation with TED Conference curator Chris Anderson.
Robinson is unscripted and contemplative, giving listeners an insight into the man behind the phenomenon.
He talks about his childhood. Perhaps surprisingly, a young Robinson showed an aptitude for soccer. His parents believed he could make it his profession, something his younger brother Neil would go on to do, but Robinson’s hopes were dashed by a bout of polio.
If any of the previous entries on this list have left you wanting more, this podcast is the best place to get it.