Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Sir Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica

8. Principles for Principals

  • Organizations like schools thrive by adapting to their environments. This depends on the flow of fresh ideas and the willingness to try new approaches. The creative leader’s job is not to have all the ideas, but to encourage a culture where everyone has them. The principal’s main role is not command and control, it’s climate control. Inspired leaders bring vision, skill, and a keen understanding of the kinds of environments where learners can and want to learn. Schools need to showcase the students’ gifts and strengths rather than what they can’t do. Creativity and interdisciplinary thinking are what the world demands, which requires kids who are willing to take risks, imagine, work hard, and work collaboratively. Leaders need to foster school cultures where this happens.
  • Leadership is about vision, and management is about implementation. They are both essential. Vision is not enough as people need support, resources, and the skills to do the job. While leadership styles vary, the best are able to inspire those they lead with the sense that they are doing the right thing and that they are capable of doing it. To be revered, leaders need to genuinely care for those they lead with compassion that is evident. A school’s procedures shape its culture as does its physical space. The key to transformation is to challenge the culture’s accepted habits. Ken sees the following eight commitments as necessary: arts every day, a curriculum connected to real-world learning, enriched assessment, deliberate collaboration, a commitment to a positive climate, and a community that feels part of the learning.

9. Bring It All Back Home

  • Parents who connect with the children’s school can promote academic achievement and the students’ general well being. Schools also need to reach out so as to promote such connections. Combined with strong school leadership, quality teachers, a student-centered learning culture, and a strong curriculum alignment; parent-community ties are one of the five essential supports for success. Unfortunately, many schools are reluctant to use the expertise of parents and other community members. I often offer to help local schools using my expertise, but they seldom call.
  • Ken warns parents against micromanaging a child’s success, which can lead to a life-long dependency. Such children are not likely to be good problem solvers. Students who don’t experience failure are likely to fear it rather than embrace it, and self-confidence is likely to be low. From Edutopia we have the following tips: 1) use social networking to connect with parents, and to bring the world into the school. 2) Welcome all parents in a genuine manner even if they don’t speak English. 3) Promote reading as a family. 4) Visit homes when possible. 5) Consider letting students lead parent conferences. 6) Create school events that encourage exercise and play as a family activity. Ken also includes a section on the benefits of the current home schooling movement.
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