Sunday, June 24, 2012

A world without @SirKenRobinson #ISTE12

On the plane ride in, I was watching All-Star Superman. It is a cartoon version of a great comic by Grant Morrison. I've been a fan of Superman comics and cartoons since I was a kid, but I've always been more intrigued by the nemesis of Superman, Lex Luthor. Villains are interesting because their motives seems to be more interesting than the hero's motives. Lex's background is one that stands out to me.

Lex is a criminal mastermind and he views Superman as a hindrance to the human race. They have gone head to head for decades. Lex has a passionate distaste for everything that Superman represents. Over the years, Lex has evolved as a character and is not just a man mad for power. He believes if humans rely on Superman to solve their problems, they will lose that spark, that drive, to make the world a better place. He believes that a world without Superman would be a better world. The crazy thing about Lex in this instance is that there is some logic here.

Before I dive deeper into this, I want to make it clear that this is NOT a shot at Sir Ken Robinson. If anything, it is a shot at us, educators. I love what Sir Robinson has said about education. I've shared his TED Talks with my staff and tweet them out because I feel they are inspirational. However, is he our Superman? As educators, are we letting him do the work for us because he can?

Lex feels that the human race has become too complacent because Superman is always solving their problems and Earth is no longer striving for greatness. Why be innovative when Superman can save the day? Why share our thoughts on the need to change education when Sir Ken has already done it?

Have we become too reliant on Sir Ken to tell the world what needs to change in education? Do we expect his TED Talks to do the work for us? Lex Luthor, besides wanting to rule the world, saw greatness in the human race. He felt the world did not need Superman to save it and relying on him to do so was only going to hurt the Earth in the long term.

Educators have the ability to change education. We are a strong and smart group of people that want what is best for the students of the world. There are many educators out there that are working every day to make education better for everyone, but are there still too many people expecting Sir Ken to do the heavy lifting? Dan Pink? Alfie Kohn?

I hate when people point out problems, but offer no possible solution, so here is my thoughts; start a blog and share your thoughts. Work with your local school board or admin staff to institute change. Work with new teachers and mentor them about the different ways to assess students and teach classes. Advocate for the arts and become involved in curriculum discussions in the district your live and the district you teach. We all need to become a Sir Ken in our building, district, community, etc. That is how change happens.

I know there have been plenty of Superman/Education comparisons out there, but maybe we need more Lex Luthor's in education.


  1. I never knew that about Lex! I'm much more of a marvel fan so rarely read any Superman comics. But I have to agree with you that we educators have to play a major role in helping and making the changes that need to happen. I also think that we need the Kens Dans and Alfies because they do the research that we don't have the time to do. We can use their research to help us make our case(s). We do need to hear more teacher voices and we need to stand united because united we have the power to change more than just our individual classrooms and schools. It's important to start in our classrooms and schools but ALL kids need a quality education.

  2. A great comparison. I also knew little about Lex, but I think the analogy is sound. We need to make spaces for Sir Ken's ideas to bloom in our classrooms. Then we all become superpeople!

  3. I def agree w/ analogy, especially if we cry foul about edu system via Twitter, faculty dining room, etc., but aren't change agents in our schools, first by modeling 21st cent best practices and then by sharing w/ colleagues.

  4. Great Post Nick... quite an honor to be at ISTE watching him give you guys a shoutout!

    I hope you made it back to Detroit safely.

    Keep in touch.


  5. This post has to win something for the total amount of nerd points contained within. You've formulated a logical argument about educational reform using superman and lex luthor as compared to Ken Robinson and education..... you win.

  6. I like the concept, and I think it also applies to the student-teacher relationship as well. Students also need liberation from a superman in order to achieve greatness. I have a lot of students who hang back and wait for me to take control. What is my mark, Is this good (enough), How should I do this or that, or I can't find the answer, or Tell me what I should learn. I am working to change my own practice (because how great does it feel to be superman some days) so that students become more resilient, more autonomous, less complacent, and more capable of solving their own problems and 'saving' themselves. Students can develop agency.

    It is also about people finding their voice and all of us being able to hearing the full range of experience and creativity. We are all better when we see the world from a multitude of perspectives. Thanks for writing.


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