DevLearn2007::Sir Ken Robinson

I’m often impressed by the visionary keynote speakers at these conferences. The themes are relatively similar, but they often express them in insightful ways. Sir Ken Robinson spoke today on the importance of creativity among other things. First, I’ll share a couple of pearls he offered…

  • Our imagination is our defining difference from other creatures… our ability to consider things that are beyond our senses.
  • Divergent thinking is suffering in our education system. This one reaches me personally, as I consider my oldest daughter’s (a first grader) path through the school system. Robinson quoted a study on Divergent Thinking where a group of kids were tested at three different times as to their ability to achieve at a genius level in divergent thinking.

    • At age 3-5, some 98% qualified as geniuses in this regard.
    • At age 8-10 (same group), that number had fallen to 32%.
    • By age 13-15 (same group), that number had fallen to 10%.
    • And a similar group of people over the age of 25 measured a mere 2%.
  • Conformity is a huge concern for me with school. I absolutely feel like my daughter’s ability to think creatively has been crushed by school. To a shocking degree, first grade has been all about how to conform. Robinson echoes this… obviously this elimination of diverse thinking is not the intent of the school system, but it is a substantial effect.
  • So, what then? Well, the big thought is, “What’s the responsibility of the organization?” Robinson points to an analogy. The company should be like a farmer. Farmers don’t make plants grow, they simply provide an environment in which the plant can flourish. His challenge to us is to make our organizations and teams conducive to growth of creativity. This leads me to my thought…

How does this apply to products? How does it apply to SCORM? Well, it’s a bit of a stretch, but I’d like to find products and evolutions of our products that allow our customers to be creative in our context. Our work is about removing the painful roadblocks in creating useful online learning. It’s a good challenge for us as we define our product roadmap and as we help guide the evolution of the standards.