Curiosity - The Engine of Achievement

written on October 11, 2013

I recently watched a very stimulating TED Talk on the Education System. Ken Robinson, a brilliant public speaker gave this great talk: How to escape education’s death valley.

Ken Robinson

I’ve selected a few amazing quotes from his talk and included them below.

On Curiosity

The second principle that drives human life flourishing is curiosity. If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners. It’s a real achievement to put that particular ability out, or to stifle it. Curiosity is the engine of achievement.

On the Role of Teachers

“There is no system in the world or any school in the country that is better than its teachers. Teachers are the lifeblood of the success of schools

You know, you’re not there just to pass on received information. Great teachers do that, but what great teachers also do is mentor, stimulate, provoke, engage. You see, in the end, education is about learning. If there’s no learning going on, there’s no education going on. And people can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning. The whole point of education is to get people to learn. A friend of mine, a wonderful philosopher…. He used to talk about the difference between the task and achievement senses of verbs. You know, you can be engaged in the activity of something, but not really be achieving it, like dieting. It’s a very good example, you know. There he is. He’s dieting. Is he losing any weight? Not really. Teaching is a word like that. You can say, “There’s Deborah, she’s in room 34, she’s teaching.” But if nobody’s learning anything, she may be engaged in the task of teaching but not actually fulfilling it. The role of a teacher is to facilitate learning.

Testing and Curiosity

Part of the problem is … the dominant culture of education has come to focus on … testing. Now, testing is important. Standardized tests have a place. But they should not be the dominant culture of education. They should be diagnostic.

But [standardized tests] should support learning. It shouldn’t obstruct it, which of course it often does. So in place of curiosity, what we have is a culture of compliance. Our children and teachers are encouraged to follow routine algorithms rather than to excite that power of imagination and curiosity.

Develop the power of creativity

Half way through his talk Robinson says “The role of education is to awaken and develop the power of creativity.” Wow. What a challenge. Regardless of where we find ourselves: a professional teacher, parent, friend, or mentor – how can we develop other’s creativity?