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Sir Ken Robinson at ISTE 2012 - Personalizing Education

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
June 25, 2012

Humanity is essentially based on the principle of diversity. We are hugely different in our talents, our passions, our interests, our motivations, and our aspirations. The irony is, our education systems are predicated on compliance and conformity, not on creativity and diversity. I believe there are opportunities now, with new technologies as well--not only, but including new technologies-- to personalize education for every student in the system. Sometimes I hear people say, 'Well you can't personalize for everybody. We can't afford that.' But I say we can't afford not to.                                           

                      --Sir Ken Robinson, ISTE 2012 Opening Keynote

I'm heading over to the San Diego Convention Center in a few minutes to join thousands of other educators at the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) 2012 Conference. Last night was the opening keynote, and I just want to take a few minutes here to reflect on it.

The quote above was, for me, the most powerful message in the keynote. ISTE set up the keynote as a panel instead of booking one speaker, with Sir Ken Robinson facilitating a conversation with Shawn Covell, Mark Prensky, and Mayim Balik. Though the panel participants had valuable contributions to the conversation, Robinson's words resonated most for me. His mantra seemed to be "creativity, personalization, and passion." I am new to Ken Robinson's work, but I plan to be a quick study of it. As I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the idea of connected learning, this call for education to be interest-driven seemed right on target.

As I begin my first-ever ISTE conference, Robinson's thoughts set the tone. This conference is huge. There are tech giants sponsoring events. Many hundreds of sessions to choose from. So many gadgets. How to use iMovie, iPads in the classroom, Create your own Android App. I fear it could be easy to get lost in the pageantry of it all. I don't want to lose sight of the students in all this. Student-driven, interest-driven learning. I've decided to seek out sessions that feature students, in person. I know there are students here--I just have to find them.

I had better get going! There will be a video archive of the ISTE 2012 Opening Keynote posted soon. Until then, I'll leave you with this inspiring 2006 Ted Talk from Sir Ken Robinson, which I believe still has tremendous relevance six years later.