Ron Heinrichs is a Parkland School Board Trustee in Alberta. Here is his contribution to the Sir Ken Robinson Blogathon which was inspired by the Sir Ken Robinson event in Red Deer.
by Ron Heinrichs
I was one of the lucky 700 (400 on the waiting list) able to obtain tickets to a public dialogue with Sir Ken Robinson in Red Deer at Westerner Park.
As a former teacher, principal and newly elected Trustee, it was a privilege and quite refreshing to hear a world class leading thinker on creativity and education. A noted author, speaker and international advisor, Sir Ken was able to use his humorous, stimulating and continuously thought provoking approach to challenge the educational status quo and belief systems that stifle creativity of our children.
In his words, “Creativity is as important now as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” It is clear, that increasingly, many students are unable to find and develop their true talents due to the constraints imposed by the present educational system. There can be little question that this leads to disinterest, low motivation and subsequent high dropout rates.
In his two hour talk and dialogue, Sir Ken, eloquently illustrated the kinds of changes that can lead to a blossoming of student creativity and subsequent learning. One memorable example he gave was the effects of a regular pairing of senior citizens with a class of young elementary students where reading was the prime focus. This lead to highly beneficial results for both groups - it was noticed that the seniors started to dramatically reduce their need for medication and the children’s reading ability and scores soared beyond any expectation. This, along with other illustrative examples, will undoubtedly have caused the many students, educators, and parents in the audience to question many facets of present day education delivery systems.
It should be noted that Alberta’s present day Education Minister, the Honourable Dave Hancock, was a member of the audience. Given the potential positive changes that a new and progressive Education Act might deliver, there may be some hope for a movement towards recognition and development of the true abilities and talents of all of our students.
In responding to audience questions, Sir Ken was quick to recognize that the need for change at all levels - from the governing policies to the classroom teaching strategies – is paramount. In the end, it was reassuring to hear someone, who understands the significance of many of the newer technologies, such as social media in student life and learning, also realize their limitations and their inability to replace the meaningful interactions that occur every day in the classroom.
This very well organized event was, without any doubt, a positive and much needed timely dialogue.