Tags: children/youth, education, knowledge, medicalization, 11 to 20 mins
Summary: Narrated by Sir Ken Robinson, this clip lays out Robinson's argument for the need to reform public education. Set against the backdrop of an illustrator drawing a visual representation of the argument, Robinson argues that the institution of public education is outdated, having emerged out of a fundamentally different social, intellectual and economic context: the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution. Times have changed, argues Robinson, and the disconnect between an outdated education system and contemporary social realities causes chaos, privileging some but alienating the vast majority of the population. Today, kids are trying to learn in an intensely stimulated environment, and prescription drugs are used as a crutch to keep kids focused. Robinson draws a parallel between the rise in ADHD diagnoses and the rise in standardized testing, claiming that ADHD is largely a "fictitious epidemic" and the real problem is that kids are bored at school. Robinson stresses the importance of arts curriculum to help students' senses operate at their peak; instead, students are anesthetized by drugs that shut off their senses. Robinson says we need a paradigm shift. Rather than moving toward conformity and standardization, the institution of public education should be moving in the opposite direction, encouraging divergent thinking and fundamentally reconceptualizing human capacity. This engaging clip demonstrates for students the ways in which our institutions are products of particular social, economic and cultural contexts, and invites a discussion about institutional change--both the possibilities and challenges involved. Moreover, the clip might be particularly useful for a lesson on the sociology of education, and how our current education system alienates different groups of students. Finally, the clip is useful for illustrating how institutional trends operate in concert with one another, as the rising dominance of the prescription drug industry has had specific consequences on the institution of education. The clip is also available with Spanish subtitles.
Submitted By: Valerie Chepp
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