Lectures for a New Year: Our Broken Educational System

This week I'll bring you the best RSA talks -- a series of lectures a bit like TED from the UK. First up, an "RSA Animate" talk -- a whiteboard drawing done by hand (although edited a bit to speed it up), along with the audio from a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson. The lecture, like all of Robinson's work, discusses what's wrong with our educational system, at a deep level -- in a very brief talk, he lays out a cogent argument that our educational system is predicated on systems of thought that are hundreds of years out of date, and thus fundamentally flawed. The whole thing is very active -- it moves rapidly, is full of jokes, and is just eleven minutes long. But at the same time, there's a lot to dig into here. If you enjoy this, you'll also like Robinson's talk highlighted last week, How Schools Fail Creative Kids, or the hour-long source lecture that this animation was based on (see below).

Topics: how our public education system is inherently a revolutionary idea, but from several centuries back; the Enlightenment view of intelligence; what a load of crap this "particular view of the mind" is; a map of ADHD prescriptions; the hierarchy of educational disciplines; schools as factories.

For: everyone who has ever been to school.

Further Reading

Sir Ken wrote a book on this topic: Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. I haven’t read it, but the Amazon reviews are pretty glowing. He also wrote The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. See below for another lecture by Sir Ken, which was the source material for this RSA Animate video.


This video is edited down from a much longer talk (see below). A full transcript of the longer talk is quite interesting, though may be confusing if you're trying to map it to this particular video. A good transcript of the RSA Animate video is also available, though it's not integrated directly into the YouTube video above.

Bonus Points

The original lecture (about an hour long) by Sir Ken is embedded below. The audio starts out a little quiet, but is cleaned up starting a few minutes in. Enjoy!

Suggest a Lecture

Got a favorite lecture? Is it online in some video format? Leave a comment and we’ll check it out!

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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0
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Sylke Rohrlach, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 2.0

We know that humans breathe through their lungs and fish breathe through their gills—but where exactly does that leave sea spiders?

Though they might appear to share much in common with land spiders, sea spiders are not actually arachnids. And, by extension, they don't circulate blood and oxygen the way you'd expect them to, either.

A new study from Current Biology found that these leggy sea dwellers (marine arthropods of the class Pycnogonida) use their external skeleton to take in oxygen. Or, more specifically: They use their legs. The sea spider contracts its legs—which contain its guts—to pump oxygen through its body.

Somehow, these sea spiders hardly take the cake for Strangest Spider Alive (especially because they're not actually spiders); check out, for instance, our round-up of the 10 strangest spiders, and watch the video from National Geographic below:

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Cooking amazing fried chicken isn’t just art—it’s also chemistry. Learn the science behind the sizzle by watching the American Chemical Society’s latest "Reactions" video below.

Host Kyle Nackers explains the three important chemical processes that occur as your bird browns in the skillet—hydrolysis, oxidation, and polymerization—and he also provides expert-backed cooking hacks to help you whip up the perfect picnic snack.


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