Sir Ken Robinson & Rafe Esquith

Program Date April 21, 2012



Creativity expert and acclaimed speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence. Rafe Esquith is the subject of the documentary, "Hobart Shakespeareans," and easily the most inspiring teacher in America. The Richmond Forum is bringing these two experts together for the first time for a thought-provoking and fun look at how to revolutionize our education system.


Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation, human potential and the people side of organizations. He is also one of the world's leading speakers on these topics, with a profound impact on audiences everywhere. The video of his famous 2006 talk to the prestigious TED Conference has been downloaded more than five million times and has been seen by an estimated 200 million people in over 150 countries. It's currently listed on the TED website as the most favorited video of all time.

Robinson works with governments in Europe, Asia and the US, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and some of the world's leading cultural organizations. In 1998, he led a national commission on creativity, education and the economy for the UK government. All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education (The Robinson Report) was published to wide acclaim in 1999. He was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland, working with the ministers for training, education enterprise and culture. The resulting blueprint for change, Unlocking Creativity, was adopted by politicians of all parties and by business, education and cultural leaders across the province. He was one of four international advisors to the Singapore government for its strategy to become the creative hub of South East Asia.

For 12 years, Robinson was professor of education at the University of Warwick in the UK and is now professor emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from the Rhode Island School of Design, the Open University and the Central School of Speech and Drama; Birmingham City University and the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. He was been honored with the Athena Award of the Rhode Island School of Design for services to the arts and education; the Peabody Medal for contributions to the arts and culture in the United States and the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding contributions to cultural relations between the United Kingdom and the United States. In 2005, he was named as one of TIME/Fortune/CNN's 'Principal Voices'. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the arts. He speaks to audiences throughout the world on the creative challenges facing business and education in the new global economies.

His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything (Penguin/Viking 2009), is a New York Times best seller and is being translated into 18 different languages.



A once-in-a-lifetime educator, Rafe Esquith may be the most inspiring school teacher in America. He's been called "a modern day Thoreau" by Newsday, "a genius and a saint" by The New York Times, and "the most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country" by The Washington Post.

For the past two decades, Esquith has taught fifth-graders at a public school in a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs and violence. His exceptional classroom at Hobart Elementary -- known simply as Room 56 -- is unlike any other in the country.

Esquith's students are mostly immigrants or children of immigrants, living in poverty, and learning English as a second language. Yet, under his tutelage, they voluntarily come to class at 6:30 in the morning, and often stay until five in the afternoon. They learn math, reading and science. But they also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, often score in the top 1 percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend the best universities.

For his near-heroic work, Esquith is the only teacher to be awarded the president's National Medal of the Arts. He has received the National Teacher of the Year Award, and won accolades from Queen Elizabeth II, the Dalai Lama and Oprah. He's also written a bestselling book, Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, and been featured, along with his students, in the PBS documentary The Hobart Shakespeareans.


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