Raghava KK: Modern Artist Tackles Education via Tech
Artist Raghava talks to Dowser about his latest work with PolyVision on redesigning education through technology and creativity (photo courtesy of subject).
Dowser: What led you to the PolyVision project?
I was invited to be a part of Steelcase’s 100 minds projects. I believe in dreaming big and this project was about 100 dreams.
Dowser: What kind of changes would you like to see in education -especially being someone from a creative background?
Unfortunately, I feel that our education system is still based on the industrial revolution, with a focus on creating stability. However, in today’s world, this purpose of education is no longer relevant. The focus should really be on helping children deal with and even welcome instability.
Today, there is a large group of students whose needs are not properly served by the system. Too many children are being diagnosed with disabilities in learning. I think we have to question this. If so many kids are disabled, then maybe it’s the system that is disabled.
Dowser: There’s a bit of tech fatigue – in that how many apps can we have, how much more technology can we have in our lives. But PolyVision is attempting to fuse tech with education – what do you make of this? And what’s the best way to do so?
There are certainly still more published books than apps available, so I don’t think that there we can yet raise the question of whether there is too much technology. I think that now technology is inevitable and ingrained in our system. The question is, do we have good curators. I think the world is going in the direction of curating, and technology can be an essential tool in this process.
Curating is a way in which everyone can express their creativity. Creativity needs to be expressed not only by creating, but by curating. We are entering the curatorial phase of technology. The apple generation made everyone believe they were creators. Now the focus has shifted to curating everything that has come out of this.
This has already happened in the literary world and the art world, and now it’s technology’s turn.
I think the best way to fuse technology with education is not by re-creating the current education system using technology, but by re-constructing and rethinking education. What we need is not a technological update in education, but really to start from scratch and use technology.
Dowser: What are some key things that we need to do to “unlearn” in education?
After high school, I never studied formally, but that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t learning. I used the world as my classroom. Here are some of the things that I have realized about education through my unlearning. I really feel education has become like a dogmatic religion. I think it’s time to bring the spirituality back into education.
-Educators don’t matter: Only when teachers can wrap their brains
around the fact that they don’t matter will they start becoming active
participants in the learning process. They become vessels of
experiences for children to tap into, where both their successes and
failures are important. Education takes itself too seriously.
-Stability vs. instability: Our education system makes us believe that
we are creating stability for our children and the process is focused
on creating an artificial sense of stability. The truth, the best
education does not secure your future. We need to education our
children in how to deal with instability and get them to almost to
actively seek it out. Even in my own life, I keep putting myself in
uncomfortable situations because of the amount I learn.
-Hire sexy teachers: The teacher who has enough charisma to bring the
most boring subject to life is the best teacher. I remember my
favorite teachers were the teachers I wanted to emulate either in
their passion for their subject or their personalities, or their
confidence, etc. I think there’s a disconnect between what students
look for in their teachers and what administrators look for in
teachers. We need to find a way to close that gap.
-True passion will emerge. Don’t mess with it!: Allow a child to own
his/her talent. Encourage them, but don’t interfere. Art was always
something that I felt was my own.
-Quantity over quality: If someone tells me that they want to be an
artist, I tell them to go do 100 paintings in the next week. They’ll
already be on their way to becoming an artist. I learned like this by
practicing and doing. My friend Derek Sivers beautifully illustrated
this point. He told a story of a pottery class, where students were
split into 2 groups. One group was asked to spend an entire semester
working towards creating one perfect pot. The second group was
instructed to make as many pots as they could. They would be graded on
the weight of clay that they used. At the end of the semester,
students displayed their work and external judges came in. Every
single prize for best pot went to a student from the quantity group.
I used to do thousands of caricatures and cartoons and that’s how I