From Aesthetics to An-Aesthetics

Last week I saw another video of Ken Robinson.

He had a TED-talk some years ago about how schools kill creativity, which I watched several times because I thought it was great.

Well, he had another talk (Changing Paradigms) of which RSA made an animation. Which I also love, I really like to see a presentation that way, because, for me, the different aspects of the whole talk stay better with me. It draws a better picture, literally.

In this case, it drew for me the picture of aesthetics as opposed to anaesthetics that stayed with me the most.

In the talk, Robinson uses the prescription of drugs for ADHD, as an example how children become anaesthetized. Drugs are given to get the children focused and to calm them down.

Which might be necessary in our education model. But the question is if maybe there is nothing wrong with the childeren, but instead there is something wrong with our education system. That system of mechanical testing and rewarding, that does not leave much room for the individual expression of the child.


And Robinson especially mentions the arts that have no room in that system. (5.50)

The arts are victims of this mentality. The arts especially adress the idea of aesthetic experience. An aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak. When you are present in the current moment. When you are resonating with the excitement of this thing that you are experiencing, when you are fully alive.

But as important as that aesthetic experience is, it is not seen as essential. And it does not have an important place within that education model.

Actually it is even much worse. Because the children have to focus on what the society as a whole thinks is important, they are given medication to be able to focus and concentrate better on those subjects.

Shut off their senses, so that they are not distracted.

An anaesthetic is when you shut your senses off, and deaden yourself to what is happening. And a lot of these drugs are that. We are getting our children through education by anaesthetizing them. And I think we should be doing the exact opposite, we should not be putting them to sleep. We should be waking them up, to what they have inside of themselves.

I think that is indeed what we should do, waking them up to what they have inside themselves. And we are back again to creativity. How it is blocked, how it has to develop and just how important it is to be creative.

So I found this video especially interesting in the use of the word ‘anaesthetics’. Shutting off the senses of our children. Preventing them from aesthetic experiences, preventing them from feeling fully alive. Preventing them from being aware to react and adjust to different and ever changing circumstances. Preventing them from using their natural creative potential.

From aesthetics to an-aesthetics


  1. For an eye-opener on schooling in the U.S. read John Taylor Gatto’s work. His full book, “Underground History of American Education”
    is on the website and there’s also a several part interview with him on You Tube. Gatto is no ordinary teacher.

    1. Thanks for that. I looked on Youtube and indeed found several videos of him. Interesting site also, I am certainly going to read what he has to say about education.

  2. Wonderful clip, thanks!

    In here Korea, also, in general, universities are thickening .
    Students are throwing their bodies into bakewares everyday.
    They come out exhausted and all in same shapes.

    I certainly miss my kindergarten years when I was happy as a poor dancer.

    Happy new year, Anne!

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