The Academic Illusion: Thoughts on Chapter 4 of Ken Robinson’s Out of Our Minds

Civilization is a race between education and catastrophe.Ken Robinson dives into the history of education in Chapter 4 of Out of Our Minds to explain how education got into the current mess it is in. He points to the academic illusion: the idea that the highest form of knowledge is analytic, logical, and scholarly. Logical and objectively-measured subjects, such as math and science, take priority over softer subjects, such as language and history.

Consider the current focus on STEM education. There continues to be a debate about whether the Arts are important enough to add to the illustrious science, technology, engineering, and math lineup.

Robinson makes two arguments in the chapter:

  1. Academic Knowledge is still important. However, creative knowledge, such as understanding how you are creative and how to tap into your creativity, is equally important. On one hand, academia is the driver of innovation. However it is also the last institution to adapt to recent breakthroughs. This is because it takes time to figure out what makes sense to teach young people.
  2. It is difficult for young people to make it through a system that focuses a large amount of energy and effort on getting outside knowledge correct. Do you know your times tables? Can you list all the presidents of the United States? Their challenge is to learn these things and also keep their inner, creative spirit alive beyond right and wrong.

It took approximately 200 years for the advancements of the Enlightenment and Industrial Era to make it into education, and we have those advancements to thank for the way the system is currently designed. The new challenge in education is whether it’s going to take another 200 years to incorporate the advancements of computers and human creativity.

The next phase of education needs coaching concepts to make it to the next level. Coaching is a vehicle for exploring the inner world and nurturing leadership qualities and relationships. Coaching is the latest development in human performance and productivity. Our work is to make sure that it doesn’t take 200 years to become integrated into education.

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