A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Classroom

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Classroom

Carole Stone’s superb salons are back, and about time too.  Great events need great hosts and that means going beyond inviting people and leaving them to ‘get on with it’.  That’s why so many business events are so utterly terrible.  Carole is the hostess with the mostest and flies around room in her element, making introductions and pointing out links between people.  Her Covent Garden flat was bursting at the seams last night as musicians rubbed shoulders with politicians, journalists and the odd speed networker.

Speaking of being in one’s element, that’s the theme of Sir Ken Robinson’s new book, which will be out at the beginning of next year. Sir Ken remains one of the world’s leading communicators on the subject of creativity and education.  I say communicators as he is such a wonderful speaker, as well as writer.  Rather than sending his audiences to sleep, a technique I have seen a few times on the education scene, he makes them laugh. At the Edge sponsored RSA  lecture this month he was on flying form, although I wasn’t laughing half as much as I used to.  You see, it’s a little bit like when you hear a stand-up deliver a particularly great piece of observational comedy.  Even if you don’t know the subject, you can still  laugh (as I did, when I first heard Ken on the Speakers for Business web-site back in 2001).  If you DO know the topic that is being lampooned, and even if it’s you that’s the subject, it’s even funnier. You howl with laughter, shaking your head and saying;

“That’s so true. So true”

So Ken’s words were music to my ears when I heard his now legendary TED talk a year or two ago.  But time went by and some things changed…and some things didn’t…

As people (including me) forwarded the link, sniggering away at how we’re screwing things up for the world’s next generation, I’m thinking some of them may have found the humour a bit dark after a while.

Heh Heh.  Schools are so fundamentally badly designed for the 21st century!  What fun!  We’re educating our children from the outside in, rather than the inside out – HAH! We have a completely warped idea of what subjects school pupils see as ‘useful’! Stop it!

The reason that the joke eventually wears thin isn’t that it isn’t brilliantly delivered, and it isn’t that Ken isn’t cymbal-smashingly right.  It’s because more isn’t happening to indicate people waking up and listening to what he has to say.  Like taking the mickey out of someone’s badly fitting trousers for the fifth comedy night running, you’re left wondering – why don’t you (or we in this case) just SORT OURSELVES OUT? 

Luckily, from my seat, I could see the broad frames of Darius Norell and Daniel Snell.  From where I’m sitting today, they are two of the most interesting thinkers and doers around education meeting business in the UK.   Even more fortunately, I don’t think that they see the funny side of keeping things as they are.  That’s certainly the impression I got when I dropped in on one of Daniel’s Arrival Education sessions this week, hosted by Ogilvy.  He’s an incredibly gifted communicator (and I don’t bandy that phrase around), and as he spoke to the group of over 20 school pupils, I was busy thinking about how you (and I mean you) could  take his amazing set of messages (about personal responsibility, goals and careers) to millions, not dozens of  people. 

One Reply to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Classroom”

  1. I wish I could have been at the RSA lectures. Oh well us paupers will get there one day. My bug bear with Sir Ken, gifted orator that he is, is that whilst it is easy to critique the school system, unless you are going in on the ground and observing what is happening right now, you end up sounding more and more like a frustrated cynic. I would love for him to attend some of the schools I go to and see if he had the same edge when confronted with really disaffected students (And teachers).

    I know that I am “somebody” when I get to go to one of Carole’s salons. For now….I will keep grafting.

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