“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come at it with anything original” – Sir Ken Robinson
In this Ted Talk, Sir Ken Robinson talks about the hierarchy in school subjects. Now when you hear this, it isn’t very surprising now is it? It seems as though it is one of those things that we all know about but never wrote down or labelled so we could analyze it. He says that mathematics and language are at the top, then the humanities, and at the bottom the arts. Even the arts have their own hierarchy with art and music having the highest status and then comes drama and dance.
I must say I certainly agree. It is this hierarchical structure that dominates classrooms and limits creativity amongst students. We learn to think in certain ways, the kinds that are necessary to pass our math and reading classes but then struggle when we arrive in our humanities classes. Sir Ken Robinson makes a good comparison that the public education system begins teaching us waist up, moves to only our head, and then shifts to one side of our head.
Watching this video, it reminds of taking IQ and IQ-like tests in school. However, the problem with these tests is that they only measure logical and linguistic ability, otherwise known as the math and reading portions of this hierarchy. Recently in one of my other classes, I learned about Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He claims the 8 intelligences are musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, verbal-linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, interpersonal, and naturalistic. Having these 8 different intelligences provides a broader range of intelligences that teachers and educators can account for rather than the typical math and reading that is normally so valued in the education system. Some students do not have a strong suit in math or reading and the career path that they plan on pursuing may be completely different than what we typically consider as the most valued professions.
I feel the emphasis on math and reading has also increased since the introduction of Common Core State Standards. Since these standards are only focused on math and reading, in addition that they require most testing to see if they are being implemented effectively, it gives the illusion that they are more important subjects than other areas of school. We have put in so many resources into making sure that students learn these two subjects that they are not seen as intelligent as others when they fail to perform as well on these standardized examinations.
I think schools should make a greater effort to increase a broader range of subjects, exemplified by Gardner’s 8 intelligences. I feel this is especially important in elementary school when kids still have an exploratory mindset. They are young and do not know what they want to do when they grow up. They shouldn’t have to limit themselves to two subjects if they are still too young to decide if that is what they want to be their course of study.