Sir Ken Robinson: An Obituary

On the 21st August, British educationalist, author and speaker Sir Ken Robinson died of cancer. A New York Times bestselling author, a Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick, and knighted in 2003 for his services to the arts, he was a pioneer in education who served as an international advisor on the implementation of arts into education, holding humanities and arts as fields that should not be devalued in comparison to other subjects.

Shortly after completing his PhD and researching drama and theatre in education, Robinson became Director of the Arts in Schools project, working with thousands of art teachers, artists, and administrations during his time working on over 300 initiatives to develop the arts in education throughout England and Wales. In doing so, paired with his other work, Robinson influenced the formulation of the National Curriculum in England, from which as students we have all benefited.

But aside from his positions and works, his philosophies on education are his legacy. In Do schools kill creativity?, his most famous TED talk (with almost 20 million views), he said: “Imagination is the source of every form of human achievement. And it’s the one thing that I believe we are systematically jeopardizing in the way we educate our children and ourselves.”

Later, in Bring on the learning revolution!, he said: “we have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”

A person dedicated to the arts, not for himself but for the benefit of society, Robinson inspired and influenced educators of all subjects from around the world to value and learn from the application of the arts in educational institutions.

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Jim Gell

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December 2021
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