RSA, or the Royal Society for the encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, defines itself as an enlightenment organization for the 21st century. Like TED talks, it is an intellectual hub that supports research and debates about “the future prospects of the human race.” Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms raises many important questions regarding the future of public education across the world (mainly, “How do we educate our children to take place in the economies of the 21st century?”), but its main interest to me is its presentation. RSAnimate uses a media not generally utilized in academia – animation. The continual unfolding of Robinson’s narrative, audibly and visually, facilitates memory and understanding, as well as the pleasure of hearing a story as it progresses.
Most of us know that everyone learns differently. We’ve heard about visual learners and tactile learners, but our education system is nonetheless centered on one type of learning, especially at more advanced levels. In college, most history professors don’t consider acting out the arrival of the pilgrims in class as I did in elementary school, or having students render the fall of the twin towers in a poem as my 6th grade social studies teacher did shortly after 9/11. These activities were not only fun – they made me enthusiastic about learning. RSAnimate brings some of that creativity and enthusiasm into the world of professional academia. It makes me wonder – could “academic ability,” as Robinson calls it, be more effectively harnessed if lessons were still playful in a college setting?