Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘RSA’

21 OCTOBER, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Changing Educational Paradigms

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What’s not to love about RSA Animate? Here’s their animated adaptation of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk about changing educational paradigms, based on one of the best TED talks of all time, in which Sir Ken makes a compelling case for how schools are killing creativity:

We have a system of education that is modeled on the interest of industrialism and in the image of it. School are still pretty much organized on factory lines — ringing bells, separate facilities, specialized into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches. Why do we do that?”

With his signature soundbite-ready cadence and perfectly timed wit, Sir Ken — always the intellectual showman — once again manages to ruffle some academic feathers while raising some important questions. I’m particularly on board with his emphasis on the role of divergent thinking:

Divergent thinking isn’t the same thing as creativity. I define creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Divergent thinking isn’t a synonym but is an essential capacity for creativity. It’s the ability to see lots of possible answers to a question, lots of possible ways to interpret a question, to think laterally, to think not just in linear or convergent ways, to see multiple answers, not one.”

His most recent book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is an absolute must-read, wherever you may stand on education.

via Open Culture

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23 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Steven Johnson on Where Good Ideas Come From

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“Chance favors the connected mind.”

After their animated exploration of capitalism, the RSA are back with a visual distillation of one of the most important questions in creative culture: Where do good ideas come from? Steven Johnson tackles the grand question with insights from his latest book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, and a historical perspective on innovation throughout human civilization.

Johnson’s answer strongly echoes the Brain Pickings mission — to build a rich and wide-spanning pool of mental resources that serve as the building blocks of creativity.

That’s the real lesson: Chance favors the connected mind.” ~ Steven Johnson

Also worth watching: Johnson’s recent TED talk, one of our favorites this year:

Where Good Ideas Come From comes as a fine addition to these must-read books by TEDGlobal speakers.

Donating = Loving

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14 SEPTEMBER, 2010

Capitalism Five Ways, Animated

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What smiling has to do with personal redemption and the economic outlook.

Is RSA the new TED? During the past year, the London-based Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (RSA) has burst onto the scene, offering a steady diet of videos created with a TED-like formula. They’re short. They’re animated and visually snappy. And they’re substantive too. But while TED is all about bringing the inspiration, RSA videos tend toward critique. Take the four videos below. Though varied in focus, they all circle around a common theme — the flaws running through our contemporary capitalist system.

DANIEL PINK: DRIVE

First up, Daniel Pink, the bestselling author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, makes the point that traditional motivation schemes — namely, bonuses — rarely achieve their intended results. Research repeatedly finds that the bigger the bonus, the worse the performance. (Hello CEOs.) So what does motivate us? The desire to be self-directed, which Pink distills into a trifecta of success: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

BARBARA EHRENREICH: SMILE OR DIE

In the United States, we’re all about positive psychology. Optimism is built into our DNA. But if you ask Barbara Ehrenreich, author of the bestselling book Nickel and Dimed, she’ll tell you it’s not such a good thing. In short, positive thinking keeps getting us nickeled and dimed.

SLAVOJ ZIZEK: FIRST AS TRAGEDY, THEN AS FARCE

Slavoj Zizek, one of today’s most influential philosophers/theorists, picks up where Ehrenreich leaves off. Reworking Max Weber’s Protestant Ethic, or that strange relationship between money making and personal redemption, Zizek gives you this observation. Increasingly, modern capitalism tries to blur the boundaries between making purchases and doing social good. We’re made to feel like we’re creating good karma every time we buy. It’s a bit of hoodwinking that keeps us happy and spending, and our eyes off the ball.

STEPHEN DUBNER & STEVEN LEVITT: SUPERFREAKONOMICS

And then to pull this thread along a little further. Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt, authors of the bestselling Freakonomics, dig into economic research that shows this dark reality: On the economic field, there’s no such thing as altruists. Players that look altruistic are greedy in the end.

DAVID HARVEY: CRISES OF CAPITALISM

What caused the 2008 financial crisis? Many have assumed that the capitalist system somehow malfunctioned. Credit default swaps and liar loans – they piled up and caused an otherwise good system to go down. But David Harvey, a long left-leaning social theorist and geographer, takes things a step further. The crisis was built into capitalism itself, he argues. It was part of capitalism’s internal logic. And, with that, we get the most penetrating critique.

All of these videos are excerpts of longer lectures, each running about 30 minutes. You can watch them in full here: Pink, Ehrenreich, Zizek, Dubner/Levit and Harvey. And when you do, you’ll really see how well the medium enhances the message.

Dan Colman edits Open Culture, which brings you the best free educational media available on the web — free online courses, audio books, movies and more. By day, he directs the Continuing Studies Program at Stanford University, and you can also find him on Twitter.

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