My (Dream) Dinner with Sir Ken Robinson – A Tribute to A Trailblazer

 I join many people around the world in being deeply saddened by the recent passing of Sir Ken Robinson. He was one of the most intelligent and outspoken thought leaders, and advocates for educational change the world has seen. 

Like many educators, I count Sir Ken Robinson as one of the biggest influences on my own career and values as an educator. When I first saw his famous TED Talk on changing the education paradigm, I was inspired by his message and admired his ability to plead the case for a transformation of our current education system so eloquently and definitively. His call to action for an education system that promotes creative thinking, values the arts, and supports every child to reach their personal potential has stayed a constant driver in my work for many years.

Sir Ken Robinson was one of the top three people I would most like to have dinner with. Regretfully, this is something that will never happen, but I can imagine what dining with Sir Ken might have been like.

I think we would start with a tasty appetiser while I showed Sir Ken some examples of young people solving problems that really matter to them using design thinking and Makers Empire. I’d love to hear his advice for teachers who are trying to change their students’ experience of education from within their classrooms while battling the constraints of an outdated education system.

Over entrée, we would enjoy a chat about creative thinking and Sir Ken’s belief that creativity is as important now in education as literacy and should be treated with the same status. Creativity is an important 21st-century skill which educators strive to develop in their students. However, traditional literacy and numeracy subjects continue to dominate the school curriculum with education systems investing in national testing and improvement programs. How can we elevate creativity to the level where it is valued by governments and featured in newspaper headlines?

Sir Ken valued imagination as the main source of human achievement. He also said that it’s the one thing we systematically jeopardise in the way we educate our children and ourselves. At Makers Empire, we believe that every child can develop creative confidence and make their world better. We love putting tools in students’ hands that enable them to create pretty much anything they can imagine. Over a hearty main course, I’d love to hear more about why he believes our current education system is sabotaging imagination and what we can all be doing to change this.

As we share a sweet dessert, I’d like to talk to Sir Ken about design thinking. I’d show him some of the research we have done with Macquarie University, which found that the design thinking process helps students to become resilient leaners who embrace mistakes as an important part of the learning process. I’d share my love for design thinking as a  problem-solving methodology which encourages iterative solutions and rapid prototyping. I’d introduce Sir Ken to meet some of the great teachers who are using Makers Empire to instil resilience and persistence in their students.  I’m sure this would remind him of when he said, “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

Finally, I’d ask Sir Ken what his favourite wine is, and keep it flowing as I sit back and soak up his insights and vision for a better education system. I would dearly love Sir Ken to know that he was right when he said, “what you do for yourself dies with you when you leave this world, what you do for others lives on forever.”

Sir Ken Robinson has left a thoughtful, inspiring legacy and a vision for education that we can all aspire to. Let’s keep Sir Ken’s work alive and work together to bring creative thinking and imagination to the forefront of our children’s education, while we continue to challenge the education system to be brave enough to embrace the transformation he imagined.

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis

Mandi Dimitriadis, DipT. is the award-winning, highly regarded and passionate Director of Learning at Makers Empire. She is an experienced classroom teacher who recognises the power of technology to enhance teaching and improve educational outcomes. Mandi has extensive experience with curriculum development and learning, having previously developed programs for the Australian Government’s Department of Education, and having created custom curriculum for Makers Empire schools in the USA, China and the UAE. She is passionate about Design Thinking and how best to prepare today’s students for the future

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