Friday, October 17, 2008

Re-examining the objective of education

YY sent me the link to this video and it's such a timely reminder of what education is about, I just had to share it. (Thanks YY!)

Sir Ken Robinson talks about how somewhere along the way, the purpose of education has become narrowly defined as the pursuit of skills and qualifications to keep industry going. While this may sound cliche and oft said, the chilling reality is that in the process, the talents in our children may have inadvertently been stamped out or overlooked, causing them to miss out on what might have been true greatness. Could've, would've. Let's not ever be in that position.

Towards the end, this is what he says:

"I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth - for a particular commodity. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we're educating our children...

The only way we'll do it (avert some of the bleak scenarios of the future) is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being so they can face this future. By the way, we may not see this future. But they will. And our job is to help them make something of it."

Pretty powerful stuff. Watch the video - it'll make you rethink your views on education. (And don't worry, it's not one of those boring, preachy talks - this guy is highly entertaining).

I couldn't get the embedded video to load properly, so instead, I've provided the link here.


Anonymous said...

You guys should watch this too: only 14-yr old at the time of this performance.

Esp. don't miss what came at 16:40min when she improvised on the spot a complete, intricate, original piece of composition from just randomly picked alphabets!


monlim said...

mmm... page not found. any way to provide a link in the comments?

Anonymous said...

eh, cannot find meh? or go to and search 'jennifer lin'.

Sorry hor. But I just watched it leh.


Lilian said...

Yup, saw that Ken Robinson video some time back, he's terribly entertaining, it's that British wit...

Another must-watch video would be Randy Pausch's Last Lecture, powerful stuff there; he recently lost his battle with cancer :(

Alcovelet said...

Hey Mon and YY, I have this on my blog! I thoroughly enjoyed the video. It's in my "Gifted? So what?" post. What with people who hothouse to make their kids "gifted", we have a sea of trained seals in the world (it just feels like there's a concentration in SIngapore) while the number of university places remain the same. So where's the differentiation?
Tks for the rec! She's astounding!

monlim said...

She's incredible. I wonder how her talent was discovered, whether her parents sent her for lessons because she showed interest or that it was discovered WHEN she was sent for lessons, since as you know, many Asians take piano lessons.

Anonymous said...

I recently went for a fundraising concert by an Arts center near my place. A piano teacher from this center selected 4 of her students to play several pieces for this little concert. This teacher is an immigrant from an east European nation (can't remember if it's Hungary or Bulgaria) with a Jewish-sounding name. And guess what, all 4 of the students she selected to perform were chinese!!

2 of them were from HK & grew up in Canada, 1 from Taiwan & grew up in Canada, the last 1 a recent immigrant from China who also won 2nd place in a Canada-wide music competition.

It isn't even that the Arts center is situated in an Asian enclave. And I think it tells me that more Asian parents let/make their children take up music lessons in a serious way, and I think Asians (& perhaps Europeans) are the ones with the discipline that's required in classical music training at a higher level.


bACk in GERMANY said...

What astonishing improvisation! She's indeed amazing! A classical triangular of beginning, middle and end of just putting 5 notes together!
I don't play the piano. And it's just incredible to see people working both hands to do separate tasks! She's one of them!

Oh yes... the worship team in the church we attend here never fails to impress me... sometimes we have people who play flute, violin, cello, double bass or even African drums on top of the usual keyboard, drum and guitar. Most Germans I know have some background in music too... and yes, they do have specialised teachers teaching music in schools.

Anonymous said...

That girl Jennifer Lin mentioned 'Yahama' music system as having taught her how to improv. So I searched Yahama music school round my area & guess what, all the students listed on their website that's from this area have all got chinese names!


monlim said...

Interesting! Chinese only? I would've thot Japanese and Korean too. Not really surprised since Yamaha is the big name in music lessons esp in Asia. Personally though, I don't like it. It's a franchise and at the end of the day, it still depends on which teacher you get. And trust me, the standard is NOT consistent.

Interestingly, in Commonwealth countries and Asia, we follow the ABRSM system in UK, so piano exams are the norm. A friend of mine moved to US and wanted her son to continue his piano lessons. When she asked about exams, the teacher was surprised (or horrified rather). In US, they don't have piano exams, only recitals. Another cultural difference - music there is only for performance. Here, it's yet another achievement! There, they hardly teach theory (which isn't so good IMO) because as long as you can play, that seems to be enough. No need to go into understanding the techniques or theoretical aspects of music. It's all about extremes, isn't it?

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