Well, what can I say? Publishers sure know what they are doing. You know how publishers sometimes add quotes on the front cover from people who are recommending a book? Well, that usually doesn’t work on me but I have to admit that I fell for it this time. I went to the library a few weeks ago looking for books on creativity. “How to”s, philosophies, education, etc and found this book by Sir Ken Robinson in the computer. There was a small, one word quote on the cover in the picture of the computer that I couldn’t quite make out. I got the call number and went to the correct isle and found the book. On the front cover, I found the quote of “Brilliant” by none other than John Cleese. Now when John Cleese is recommending a book on creativity and education reform, I thought, “this is probably going to be worth my time”.
Three Themes in the Book
There are 3 themes in this book that Sir Robinson outlines at the beginning:
#1. We are living in times of revolution (cultural, technological, ever-changing)
#2. If we are to survive and flourish we have to think differently about our own abilities and make the best use of them
#3. In order to do so we have to run our organizations (your home school) and especially our education system in radically different ways.
First of all, I was excited to read this book because it simply states learning to be creative which is at the heart of what I believe. Anyone can be creative even if they think they are not. The author goes into quite a bit of detail on what entails being creative and how you learn be creative. It isn’t difficult, it isn’t reserved for a special type of people, and you don’t have to be especially brilliant.
The Trouble with Education
This is the 3rd chapter and I was especially delighted about it. It is a powerful chapter to provide a case and evidence for undertaking home schooling. He doesn’t completely bash public school organization or processes but he does point out how they are thoroughly flawed and in need of reformation or even a “throw it out and start over”. The public education system in this country is old, out-dated, and in a mode where we only hail certain types of intelligences as king and others as superfluous.
He suggests a more balanced approach where “academics” (intellectual pursuits like science and math) meet the “arts” (emotional and human experience arts like music) to a point where the line between the two is blurred. Science and math now are looked at in an artistic and creative way where you can use the sciences to create art. On the other side of the coin, we look at the arts and how science is related (like color wave length in painting or sound waves and timbre in music). He explains how we, as a world, got to the point of separating subjects and how this has had a detrimental effect on education.
Who cares if you can’t make Mensa?
The author also makes a great point on multiple intelligences and the need for education to reflect this reality. Not everyone is going to be an engineer and let alone want to be one. Not everyone can paint or draw anything but stick figures. The days of IQ tests and intelligences that are tested by standardized testing are out-dated and should be extinct. In fact, he makes a great case how standardized testing has been horrible for education and how standardizing education is basically anti-education.
He makes sure we keep in mind the natural passions and inclinations of our students so that education can be molded to make the most out of them. He does make a distinction between a passion and a talent. Sometimes we are really good at something but it doesn’t really fire us up. Just because we are good at something doesn’t mean we should make a career out of it unless it wakes us up and gets us excited. I find this good advice for the home schooled to keep in mind. Find something that fires you up and makes you glad you have another day on Earth to do it.
So you may not be good at any math but perhaps you are really good at language or another intelligence. Go for it. You should still study math to a point that you can get
along in this world…but you don’t have to stress over it if it make you like this:
The Case for Home Schooling
I was so intrigued by the author’s philosophy on education that I looked him up on YouTube and sure enough found some video lecture he made. One was answering the question on home school…which he supports! Now, in the book he lists homeschooling and “un-schooling” as radical forms of education. I don’t think he was being derogative due to the video I witnessed. I think he was merely stating that it is radical compared to the normal form of public education, meaning radically different in so many ways.
However, this radical difference actually lends itself to implementing creative education. It is flexible enough to be so radically different from the out dated “industrial revolution” model that we can make great strides in the education of our children. Is home schooling perfect? No. Does your home school reflect a lot of public school traits? Time schedule, subject by subject, a divination between arts and sciences? If so, this book is worth a reading to help renew our minds on what education can truly be other than what we grew up with.
RATING – This Book Earned:
In regards to being a modern seminal work on creativity that defines creativity and outlines ways to use creativity in education and in our personal lives, I would give this book 5/5 brains. So if you are into a semi-philosophical work on creativity and education implementation, I highly recommend it. It is also a great read to defend the home schooling position.
However, being the busy home school parent you are, I have to give it an overall:
Since this is such a specialized book on creativity (on which John Cleese is a well sought after expert and speaker), it may be hard to digest just for a light parenting home school read. However, your junior/senior HS student may find it useful (and also his other book, which will be reviewed here soon) in helping them to creatively think about their own education. If you find your homeschooling needing a fresh boost or a little reformation because you feel you are kind of in a rut, this book could definitely give you a starting point with some great ideas and resources. It also contains some great British humor.
Coming Up Next:
I will be reviewing a book on creative organization and optimizing your home school so that your students can be creative as they can. Also, another book from Sir Ken Robinson where he helps his readers creatively find the point of natural talent and their passion. Subscribe or follow on Facebook/Twitter to get more resources and ideas for home schooling