In his latest TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson retreads the boards of previous arguments, suggesting that instead of ‘command and control’, education today needs ‘climate control’. The purpose of school should not be to educate kids according to a certain type – as in the manufacturing process of a production plant – but should be to nurture the germ of creative potential that is imminent in each of them.
In stressing the primacy of the organic over the mechanical, Sir Ken reminds us of the dichotomy of human forms that grew particularly out of the enlightenment, and that has never been satisfactorily resolved. We seem to be in an era of rejection of the utopian forms of the industrial revolution – whether those of Saint-Simon, Fourier or Owens – and are instead embracing the forms of nature. We suppose that we are breaking new ground with organic imagery and talk of the climate, but have we not been here before? Bacon, Diderot and Rousseau might say so.
Returning to the idealism of nature is to preserve a familiar opposition. Education needs new utopias.