The Heart of Education: Wanting To Learn

Here’s an excerpt from a great talk by Sir Ken Robinson of TED fame. It’s from the Union Square Ventures “Hacking Education” event.

Besides his take on education (which I completely agree with), note the clever technique he steals from Peter Brooke (who, in fairness, stole it from Plato, who used it in The Republic).

I call it “insight by subtraction”:

There was a fantastic booklet a few years ago by a guy called Peter Brooke. He’s a theater director, if you ever come across it. He wrote a book called “The Empty Space.” And he asked himself this question. He said, What is the heart of the theater? And to get to it, he started the process of subtraction. He said, “What can you take away from it and still have it?”

And he said, well, you can take away the stage. Take away the script. You can take away the lighting. You take away the curtains, and you can take away the building. You can take away all the crew, and you can certainly take away the director. All of that is very easy. Take it all out.

The only thing you cannot remove from theater is an actor in a space and somebody watching. That’s the heart of it. And if either of those parts is missing, there is no theater.You need a performer and an audience. Theater is that relationship.

And he said you should never add anything to that relationship unless it improves it. If it gets in the way, if it encumbers it, if it makes it more difficult, you shouldn’t have it. And that’s his problem with theater. Everything is a distraction from the main business.

And that’s, I suppose, what I want to suggest here, that part of the conversation should be about what’s the heart of education? What is the irreducible minimum? In public education, I think we’ve lost sight of it. The heart of education is what happens in the hearts and minds of individual learners. You cannot make anybody learn anything that they’re not interested in learning, if they don’t see and feel the relevance of it.

And what we’ve got now in this industrialized system is a multitude of distractions from this central purpose. The heart of it is falling out of it because kids aren’t interested. What we have here is, an opportunity to really engage kids’ imaginations by giving them education, using these technologies not to get in the way but to enhance and properly develop — collaboratively and creatively.

1 thought on “The Heart of Education: Wanting To Learn

  1. Just wondering why there is no video demo of PBWorks on the website?

    Just a random question

    Cool blog though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *