I first watched Ken Robinson’s TED talk – “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” some months ago – a thought provoking examination of the aims of the educational establishment.  It has influenced my thinking about the aims of teaching quite heavily, though perhaps more on this in a later post.

It occurred to me that this would be a nice talk to use with a class…

A basic lesson outline is included below the talk – it is primarily a discussion based lesson, so any language input would be reactive and immediate (i.e. when learners want to know how to express their views in a particular way) rather than pre-planned – though I would suggest following an output-feedback model and making careful notes on language use throughout the discussion period, so that a corrective feedback / reformulation stage can follow at the end.

This also functions as a class needs analysis, so you might also want to take some detailed notes on the content of their ideas!  By the end of the lesson, your learners may have arrived at a set of learning outcomes or, at the very least a set of more general goals they would like to try and achieve by the end of the course.  This may well guide your thinking when planning out the course or individual lessons, and by relating the lessons to the goals the learners decided for themselves, it might help increase learner motivation and participation in the classroom.

Lesson Outline:

(1)  Lead In Discussion:  three questions on the board:  (a)  What’t the point of education?  (b)  Does education achieve it’s aims?  (c)  How would you change the system to make it better?

(2)  Video Task – play Sir Ken’s talk (as above) and ask them to make notes on his answers to the questions and whether they agree or not.  Do some reactive content feedback.

(3)  Ask the learners to relate these ideas to your lessons – be prepared to receive some harsh criticisms!  But, at the same time try to direct these into constructive criticisms…  Some guidance questions:  (a)  what do you think the aims of our classes are?  (b)  What do you think the aims of these classes should be?  (c)  What do you think are the best ways to achieve these aims?

(4)  Pyramid discussion.  Ask each learner to try and arrive at ten specific goals they want to achieve within the remaining classes of their course.  Then pair the learners, who must then agree both on a set of ten and rank them in order of importance.  Then put the learners into larger groups of four or five, to do the same task – agree on ten goals in order of importance.  Finally, bring the whole class together and hand over the classroom to them – get them to nominate a “scribe” to collate the feedback and to get the list of ten goals up on the board.

(NB) their initial goals can be as frivolous as they wish – mostly the more humorous goals will be winnowed out during the discussion stages.  But it is important to guide to into phrasing attainable goals, otherwise frustration looms large!

(5)  Let them know you’ll use these ideas to guide your planning of the rest of the course.

(6)  Provide a language correction / reformulation as appropriate.


Update:  when I first posted this, I accidentally posted the wrong video!  Previously, the video was Ken Robinson’s TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” – which is definitely worth watching, but not the one intended for use as part of the lesson!  This has now been updated and the video embedded in the post is Ken Robinson’s RSA talk “Changing Education Paradigms”.  The RSA Animate version is included above – it is probably best for classroom use as it’s only 12 minutes long.  An extended 55 minute, unanimated version is also available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCbdS4hSa0s.  Apologies to all for the mix up – blame it on a rushed posting just before class!