Ideas worth spreading #3: Dynamic education

This month we consider two TED talks that explore vibrant, unconventional approaches to education

Plan B: Youth, Music and Education
Views to date: 100,000

This man’s talent is so extensive it would be intimidating if it weren’t so inspiring. Bestselling rapper, actor and now director of the critically acclaimed, dark, multi-narrative, Ill Manors, Ben Drew, aka Plan B, has just launched a new charitable trust aimed at empowering young people with little or no connection to mainstream education and training.

Each One Teach One is an ambitious inner city initiative bringing together local businesses to encourage and find young talent too often hidden behind a shield of disaffection. His Ted talk, published in March 2012, is true to Plan B’s lyrical form; unflinching, straight-talking and from the heart. He gently drives home the message that if there is one person you can reach who is less privileged than you, troubled or hidden beneath a blinkered social radar, do all you can to reach them and do it now.

This is where redemption and reconnection lies, he asserts, for many of those in society who have slipped through the cracks. Where the press say there is nothing but drugs and violence among street youth, Drew has many stories of hope from the same broken down urban environments, and cites a powerful anecdote about gang infiltration into his shoot on the set of Ill Manors that the press attempted, foolishly, to dilute.

This man allows his irrefutable talent to inspire young people who naturally gravitate towards music. We will no doubt be hearing a lot more from Plan B’s media savvy and razor-sharp social conscience.

Sir Ken Robinson: School Kills Creativity
Views to date: 16,400,000

As a ‘failed’ academic, this talk, which is the most highly viewed Ted talk to date, was music to my ears. Here, consciousness appears to be slowly shifting from a world dominated by dry, institutionalised learning, to a wider, more inclusive creative sphere.

Former university professor Sir Ken Robinson, a man with real clout in the educational world, highlights the urgent need to push creativity into a central role within all school curricula. He does so with real energy, humour and passion.

My career as a writer and facilitator over the last twenty years has been dedicated to raising recognition and respect for the creative arts beyond an evening at the Apollo, a good read on the bus or a danceable beat – essential though these are. In a brilliant analogy, Sir Ken compares the strip mining of the Earth’s resources to the strip mining of our own creativity for the sake of monoculture academic learning, with university education as the corporate miner pedalling its aspirational model above all others.

Despite the creative industries clearly existing at the heart of so many people’s lives, as a serious career choice the arts still dwell well beneath modern-day educational models and a dangerously dominant academic narrative. It’s time we changed that narrative and started telling a new story for a new generation of students; a generation that will need every ounce of its creative juice nurtured in order to make it through the coming decades.

Sir Ken’s talk shows that it’s time to wake up to a wider, wiser form of learning and a world of endless creative possibility.

If you have a TED Talk you would like to see reviewed, contact the Positive News editorial team at: [email protected]