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LETTER - Alternative schooling article prompts response from Courtenay resident


Dear editor,

I noted with interest the article in the Oct. 18th edition regarding a presentation on alternative education models that will take place later this month.

RELATED: Presentation on alternative schooling coming to Courtenay

In particular, the 2006 TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” was mentioned. Not too long after Robinson’s TED talk, I wrote an essay critiquing it that nearly 20 years later still attracts letters from educators and others who questioned Robinson’s ideas. In fact, Robinson’s TED talk was a long and fact-free diatribe and string of insults aimed at teachers. The very last people, in Robinson’s view, that you’d want to be seated next to at a dinner party. Yes, he actually said that as part of his talk.

I urge parents and educators to be very skeptical of Robinson and his ilk. About every five years, some new education guru comes along and the education system spends millions of taxpayer dollars “reforming” the curriculum. We can always improve, of course, but bashing teachers isn’t the way to go about it. And that’s what Robinson’s TED talk is all about.

Robinson’s theses are that:

Children are all incredibly talented and creative. (Is every adult you know “incredibly talented”? Then why would anyone think that their children are?)

Creativity and innovation alone are the key to the future; knowledge won’t suffice and isn’t even necessary. Acquiring knowledge is therefore a waste of time. (as are, apparently, diligence and a good work ethic)

Being creative and innovative requires risk-taking. (Yes. So?)

Schools stigmatize “wrong” answers, thereby stifling creativity and innovation in favour of regimentation that frowns on risk-taking behaviour. In essence, the education system “educates the creativity out of” students. (Simply false. In disciplines like math and science, where there ARE wrong answers, we have to tell the students that. It doesn’t “stifle” their creativity.)

Therefore, the traditional education system or model is completely wrong and has to be changed to eliminate these problems. (Again, simply false.)

Robinson offers no evidence for any of this. Instead, he relies on insulting educators, impugning their motives and shamelessly pandering to his audience’s prejudices. I urge anyone who was considering this alternative schooling method to first look up and watch Robinson’s TED talk and then read my detailed critique here:

Scott Goodman,


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