TED talk on “schools kill creativity”

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In February 2006, Ken Robinson gave a TED talk titled "Schools Destroy Talent." The aim of the talk is to criticize the educational system and its lack of focus on individual imagination. Robinson believes that children should not only be encouraged to pursue their education but also to pursue their desires and desires, which are inherent in their talents. He quotes Picasso's remark that "every child is born an artist" (6:05). Robinson encourages the audience to reconsider the methods they use to teach the world. According to the speaker, people do not mature into art, but rather are learned through it. Robinson asserts that education is a major component of one’s life, but it should be used in tandem with a person’s skills. In his Ted talk, Robinson used a pathos appeal to strike the emotions of the audience and also to win their approval on his subject. This essay also looks into the ethos, and the logos appeal that Robinson uses in his TED talk to grab the audience’s attention and also change their perspective on the role of education.

Ethos Strategy

Robinson uses the Ethos appeal by giving a personal account of himself as a professor, a father and, a researcher. He notes that schools tend to kill people’s creativity by relying on a structured way of teaching and ignoring new developing ways. For instance, a lecturer focuses on teaching students in conventional means and thereby shuts their ability to seek better ways of solving an education problem. The professors, therefore, attempt to pass over the knowledge they have gained in the years that they have done an extensive research and hence ignore the ability of the students also to have their mind. Robinson states that professors live in their heads because the society has made them feel that they are the epitome of success (9:51). This strategy is effective since it allows the crowd to resonate with the fact that he has a background in education and is therefore well suited for the talk.

Pathos Strategy

A pathos effect is evidently felt in Robinson’s speech. Be begins by giving jokes about his personal life which allows the audience to be in touch with him. He laughs at himself when he mentions that while growing up, having a degree equated to getting a job, which he did not want (12:23). In between the speech, he gives stories that allow the student to relate with him and also make him approachable. He has indeed swayed from the traditional lecturing in higher learning. It is evident that the audience is having fun from the laughter in the auditorium. Robinson clearly understands his skill and has perfected the art winning the audience without stuffing them with unnecessary, boring information. This rhetorical strategy is effective since it allows the audience to resonate with Robinson as a human being and view his message from his perspective.

A pathos appeal also comes out clearly when Robinson narrates a story of a young girl who seemed to lack concentration in class but yet grew to become one of the famous ballet dancers globally (14.50). This story is convincing to the audience, and it enables them to look at Robinson’s talk with a critical mind and hence appreciate his assertion that indeed schools kill creativity. Robinson prompts the crowd to imagine further what it would be if they allowed children to explore their talents while still young. He mentions that the society is wary of making mistakes and the idea has been coined in the children’s minds that they grow up wishing to be experts and this shuts down their creativity( 5:21). Robinson provokes the crowd into thinking about William Shakespeare and makes a joke about his father shutting him down his style of speech since it was not clear to other people (7:28). The strategy is useful since it touches on people’s emotion and even allows them to imagine a way they would change their parenting skills.

Logos Strategy

Robinson uses a logos appeal by making factual statements on his subject. He notes that that globally, subjects have a hierarchal order. He points out that mathematics and languages start at the top of the list while humanities lie at the bottom (8:27). At the end of it, schools only want to produce university professors (9:22). The hierarchy is structured in a way that the most important subjects are stated at the top. Students are made to believe that by focusing on the top subjects, they are guaranteed a job and a good career. Although education has advanced, Robinson notes that degrees have become flooded because children are made to believe that the only sure way to get an education is by having a degree. Robinson also states that the employment level has gone down since jobs demand more papers and youths are resulting to staying at home (12:23) He notes that although investing in the children’s education is paramount since it develops their mindset and encourages them to be innovative, it should be in tandem with creativity. By using facts and giving real life examples, Robinson can thereby connect with the audience and at the same time look knowledgeable. It is evident from the beginning that Robinson is quite knowledgeable and has done extensive research in human psychology. By mentioning that he was a professor and giving evidence based arguments while making his speech, the audience can, therefore, trust his content. The fact that he is learned but yet proposes that young people be allowed to exploit their talents establish him as someone flexible and open to new ideas, which most people would find appealing.


Robinson has tactfully used ethos, pathos, and logos to grab the attention of his audience. Pathos comes out clearly when he evokes the emotions of the audience which is facilitated by his personal stories and humor. By stating his credentials and giving information based on his work experience and observation as a university lecturer, the ethos effect is felt and makes the argument more convincing. Robinson has clearly done his background research which comes out when he divulges facts about the current education system and the state of employment which further reveals his logos strategy. Robinson’s success and intellect can be attributed to the choice of words and the fact that he has managed to keep the audience entertained and informed while he is speaking. If the strategies were not used, the discussion would have looked biased and not factual which would likely attract criticism. The current generation faces high emphasis on the education level and class performance but ignores creative abilities. This study is, therefore, significant to today’s society because it has become reliant on the education background and not on the capabilities of the individuals.

Work cited

Robinson, Ken. "Do Schools Kill Creativity". TED. February 2006. Lecture.

October 20, 2022

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