Talk Summary:

As we grow up, do we lose our imagination and creativity? Why? Does the education system strip us of our originality and individuality? Does this society condemn mistakes? Does our education put us under the pressure to reach a certain ideal? In this TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson discusses how human creativity is being suffocated by education systems and societal expectations. He explains that because our society stigmatizes mistakes, we become less willing and less able to produce original content, in fear of failure and nonacceptance.  To view the transcript of Sir Ken Robinson’s talk, please click here.


TED Explained:

‘Good morning. How are you? It’s been great, hasn’t it? I’ve been blown away by the whole thing. In fact, I’m leaving.’

1. “Blown away” is an idiom, which means it is not to be interpreted in the literal sense. (i.e. someone literally being blown away by the wind!) Rather, it means “To cause someone great pleasure or surprise; To greatly impress someone”. It is always used positively. For example: I was blown away by the performance! It was so interesting and funny, I really loved it.



“The second is, that it’s put us in a place where we have no idea what’s going to happen, in terms of the future, no idea how this may play out.”

  2. “Play Out” is a phrase. This phrase is used on processes and how they develop, turnout, unfold, take place etc. For example: I wonder how this business meeting will play out… I’m not sure if they’ll agree with our proposal.



‘But if you are, and you say to somebody, you know, they say, “What do you do,” and you say you work in education, you can see the blood run from their face. They’re like, “Oh my god,” you know, “why me?”’

3. “To see the blood run from someone’s face”
is an idiom. This idiom is used to convey negative feelings, eg. fear, embarrassment, shock, or dislike etc. As you can imagine, when a person feels the above emotions, the blood runs from their face, and their face turns pale. For example: When Peter was told he had been fired, the blood ran from his face. He was shocked.

(Other variations of this idiom include: the colour drained from his face/ the blood drained from his face.)



‘All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them (talents), pretty ruthlessly.’

4. “Squander” is a verb. It means to waste something foolishly (usually money). For example: He squandered all of his money on beer and gambling. OR You should never squander your money. Instead, save it up and spend it carefully and wisely.



‘And we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.’

5. This verb comes from the noun “stigma”, which is defined as “a social disgrace”. In other words, something that society considers to be bad or have a bad reputation, or leaves a bad mark. It goes without saying that this word is used negatively. For example: Ex-prisoners always feel stigmatized when trying to return to normal society.

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