Person of Note: Ken Robinson

This is the first in a series where I look at someone who I consider a person of note. They could be someone who is doing interesting things in the research world, who is writing amazing things, who are just doing good things in the world, or someone who inspires me. I draw inspiration from a wide variety of places, and I hope you enjoy taking a sneak peek as to where I go to when I need fresh inspiration! 


Currently, I’m doing a lot of reading around high-stakes examinations in schools, and the effects of these exams on those understaking them. I mean, we all know that tests are stressful, and we feel anxious about them, but I’m reading consistently about how these young people are coming in with ‘at-risk’ levels of stress and anxiety, and these are coming from normative, everyday samples of kids.

I get that there is a need for some form of asssessment at state level. It’s a way of standardising education, qualifications etc as these young people move forward into adulthood, and the further education/ workforce that come with it. But it seems, that somewhere along the line, young people are being pushed to breaking point. What worries me further, is that most of the studies I have read thus far examine stress in direct context to academia, and don’t also situate that experience and it’s emotions in the everyday experience of being an adolescent and trying to find your feet in the world.

Reading this kind of thing repetitively can make one despair at the global education system and how we raise our young people. Given that I am mid-PhD, I can’t afford to drown in that despair just yet, so I need to find ways to counter-balance what I am reading, emotionally, at least.

This is where my first Person of Note comes in. (Sir) Ken Robinson is a creativity expert (I totally want to be one of those!), who thinks creatively about how we educate our children. If he sounds familiar, it’s probably because of his TED talks, all of which consistently feature in the top talks of all time on that site. He is also the author of numerous books, all of which are on my TBR list.

As he says on the homepage of his website ‘If you click on the bio tab, you’ll see that I’ve been doing what I do for a fairly long time!’ As a result, I won’t detail that here, but suggest you have a browse through his site.

What I will say about Ken Robinson is that I like how he challenges accepted norms and ways of thinking that never comes across as controversial or argumentative or dogged. Instead, he presents a fresh perspective (and somehow it’s still fresh, every time I visit it) in a lighthearted way, which makes you think in different ways even to how he has thought about things. His talks and interviews are entertaining and light, which is why I find them a refreshing counterbalance to the despair of the academic articles I’m reading!

He also inspires me to push to find new ways of doing things in general – not just around my research or my area of work. He makes it feel not only ok to think differently to the generally accepted norms, but like it might actually be the new ‘cool’ to do so.

Who would be your Person of Note? Do let me know!

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