Jaime Patterson | November 2015

ARTISTIC Critique of Creative Schools

In this version of “ARTISTIC” critique, I will be reviewing Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools. Unlike the text I shared last week (Roxanna Elden’s See Me After Class, see that review here) Robinson’s text is content and research heavy and is a great resource for schools attempting to transform education. See the original article here.

Affirmation: positive assertions

Creative Schools provides inspiration for transforming schools.  His call to action connects education to four basic principles: personal, cultural, social, and economic.  Throughout the text Robinson refers back to these principles, and uses them as a guide for transforming schools.

Reflection: opinion-based observations

When I first picked up this book, I was excited to start reading.  However, it took me months to actually finish it.  It is a heavy read.  There are multiple references to policies, various forms of delivering education, and plenty of acronyms.  However, Sir Ken Robinson’s personality does shine through with glimpses of his humor and candor.

Technique: foundational elements

Robinson uses a formal and didactic approach which gives it a textbook feel. Although this makes for an academic read, his playful personality often shines  through. Overall, it is informative, but if you are looking for a “How To” guide to delivering creativity in schools, this text will fall short.

Inquiry: questions for the author

My largest question for Robinson is “How?”  He provides the principles to implementing creativity as the driving force of education, and he acknowledges the politics behind education. Going into detail about how it makes it difficult to reach the full potential of education, but there aren’t any clear cut steps for achieving the goal.  Robinson articulates the goal of education as “to enable students to understand the world around them. As well as, discovering the talents within them so that they can become fulfilled individuals and active, compassionate citizens” (p. xxiv), but how to reach this goal is a little vague.

Suggestion: recommendations for the author

Now that the background of this revolution (as he calls it) is laid out, please outline the steps to true educational reform at the site level.  There are things that we cannot change, and he acknowledges this, but what if we want to change anyway?  The text gives examples and testimonials of schools that have transformed, but how does a school actually accomplish the change, what are the steps?  My suggestion is to build an actual how-to guide.

Translation: interpretation of author’s intent

Robinson has been in education for over forty years, so it is clear that his experience provides a tapestry of the educational world.  I believe his ultimate intention is to provide the reader with an understanding of how current initiatives rob our children of their creativity. He wants to offer an alternative way of viewing and envisioning education.  He highlights how most reform is driven by political and commercial interests, which are devoid of the true meaning of education, then explains what education should be.

Illation: overall evaluation

Overall, this is a great resource for experienced educators, administrators, and school site leaders. It might be a little heavy for newer teachers who are still learning how to navigate the day-to-day expectations of their sites, but would be a great summer read.

Create: recreate the work

There are changes happening in education and Robinson highlights some great schools, teachers, and leaders who are making grassroots efforts to change the landscape.  It would be wonderful if the changes seen in this text could be recreated into a guide for educational leaders.

I recommend Sir Ken Robinson’s Creative Schools for leaders who are serious about making a change for the good in education.

Piquès & Pirouettès

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.