Learn Academic English 1: Do schools kill creativity?

Genuinely funny and persuasive TED talk. Ken Robinson (author/educator) challenges the way we’re educating our children.

Vocabulary needed to understand the talk

graduated – successfully complete an academic degree, course of training, or (in North America) high school
protracted – adj. relatively long in duration; tediously protracted
ruthlessly – adv. in a ruthless manner, without pity or compassion for others
unpredictability – noun lacking predictability; the quality of being guided by sudden unpredictable impulses; the trait of being unpredictably irresolute
disciplinary – adj. relating to a specific field of academic study; relating to discipline in behavior; designed to promote discipline
commodity – noun articles of commerce
benignly – adv. in a benign manner, gentle, kind, mild, or unharmful
epiphany – noun a divine manifestation; twelve days after Christmas; celebrates the visit of the three wise men to the infant Jesus
inflation – noun the act of filling something with air; (cosmology) a brief exponential expansion of the universe (faster than the speed of light) postulated to have occurred shortly after the big bang; a general and progressive increase in prices; lack of elegance as a consequence of being pompous and puffed up with vanity
disembodied – adj. not having a material body
contemporary – adj. belonging to the present time; characteristic of the present; occurring in the same period of time; noun a person of nearly the same age as another
nonetheless – adv. despite anything to the contrary (usually following a concession)
kinesthetically – adv. in a kinesthetic manner; by means of kinesthesia
stigmatize – verb mark with a stigma or stigmata; to accuse or condemn or openly or formally or brand as disgraceful
predicate – noun one of the two main constituents of a sentence; the predicate contains the verb and its complements; (logic) what is predicated of the subject of a proposition; the second term in a proposition is predicated of the first term by means of the copula; verb affirm or declare as an attribute or quality of; make the (grammatical) predicate in a proposition; involve as a necessary condition of consequence; as in logic


Do you think that creativity is as important as literacy? Why? Why not?
What evidence can you present to substantiate your claims?
Can you provide links to the evidence?
Is Ken right when he says that schools kill children’s creative talents?
Do all kids have talents?
Can Ken’s ideas be put into practice?
What evidence can you present to substantiate your claims?
Can you provide links to the evidence?

Explain the meaning
Ken used during the talks several interesting expressions.
Can you explain their meaning in the context of the talk?
Can you provide other contexts in which they can be used?

– If a man speaks his mind in a forest, and no woman hears him, is he still wrong?
– vested interest
– stigmatise mistakes
– hierarchy of subjects
– epiphany
– predicated on the idea of academic ability
– a protracted process of university entrance
– process of academic inflation

 Writing task

Write a short summary of the talk (at least 200 words).

For ambitious students

Ken said:
‘by the way, there’s a shaft of nerves that joins the two halves of the brain called the corpus callosum.
It’s thicker in women’

What would be the best evidence supporting Ken’s claim? Can you find it? Send me the link!