March 17th, 2010
11:53 AM ET

Why teaching is 'not like making motorcars'

John D. Sutter

Sir Ken Robinson says our education system works like a factory. It's based on models of mass production and conformity that actually prevent kids from finding their passions and succeeding, he said.

"The problem is that educating young people is not like making motorcars - at all," the author and educator said in a recent interview. "And one key difference is that motorcars have no interest in how they're made, and young people do."

Robinson, author of "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," spoke to CNN after a recent lecture at the TED Conference in Long Beach, California.

Keep reading...

April 10th, 2009
11:59 PM ET

Rescue the American: Not could we, but when should we?

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Ken Robinson
Terrorism and national security analyst

The United States government conducted the “mother of all” Secure Video Teleconferences (SVTC) on Thursday night regarding the piracy hostage crisis off the coast of Somalia.

What’s the difference between this week’s seized vessel and any other over the past year?

A big one!

The pirates over-reached, and took as “U.S. flagged vessel” (MV Alabama), triggering a challenge of doctrine as old as the republic, Freedom of Navigation.

The Pirates also didn’t count on the crew being populated by very angry, determined ex-Marines, who fought back, and quickly retook their ship.

Currently the problem is one of the laws of the sea, and the laws of nature.

Three of the pirates made off in a life vessel, intended for deep water, not the shallow and treacherous waters of the Somali coast. The boat is currently out of fuel, and drifting. A quick glance at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) web site will tell you that the boat won’t make it to shore, where according to my sources, no one wants the problems of an American hostage, anyway.

It is listing, heading north.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Africa • Ken Robinson • Pirates
March 24th, 2009
07:47 PM ET

Mexico and drug lords

Programming note: Anderson Cooper will be reporting live from the U.S./Mexico Border with an up-close look at drug-trade violence, kidnappings and HOW this violence is threatening the U.S. Watch The War Next Door Wednesday and Thursday night at 10p ET.
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Ken Robinson | BIO
Former Special Operations and Intelligence Officer

I lived in Colombia for three years, chasing the Pablo Escobar and lessor know drug cartel leaders. What I learned:

Law of unintended consequences is always in play.

– When you capture or kill a drug lord, you create a vacuum, and typically a civil war, for new leadership, because so much money is involved.

Devil you know vs. devil you don't.

– Makes it harder to defeat the new organization, as you often start at the bottom, all over again. The decision to capture or kill the leadership, is also the decision to poke your own eyes out, for a considerable time, while a new bad guy, sets up shop.

Also, we will never defeat drug lords, until we curb our own DEMAND. We in the U.S. - our CONSUMPTION - drives the drug lords' production.

Many of these drug lords have power, money, technology, and weapons as good as or better than many NATIONS.

I learned while in Pakistan of a novel program in Iran, very successful, to get their poppy growers to crop substitute and transition to pistachio nuts.

The significance of this is important for Afghanistan, where heroin now supplies 80 percent of the global demand.

The problem is: We don't talk to Iran, and won't let a delegation from Iran interact with poppy growers.

Instead, their product comes in to the U.S. via - say it with me, now - Mexico.

Life is like a Seinfeld episode - everything is related to everything else.

Filed under: Ken Robinson • Mexico
March 6th, 2009
06:21 PM ET

Debunking the failure myth in the stimulus

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Ken Robinson | BIO
Former Special Operations and Intelligence Officer

The new perceived “crisis” in the stimulus initiative is the claim that there is no way to prioritize projects to get the greatest value from taxpayer dollars.

It’s true that not every “shovel ready” project merits funding. When prioritizing stimulus resources, the hard part is explaining the value of projects beyond how many jobs they create for one or two years.

But this is a manufactured crisis. A unique category of business software already is proving it wrong. The overall category is called “Decision Support Software.” I was using this software ten years ago, for the Special Operations, and Intelligence community. This methodology has successfully allocated tens of billions dollars for DOD, and special programs. But, most important, it left an audit trail, on how the decisions were made, and where the money went. Allowing for a measure of its effectiveness, and insuring due diligence and accountability!


Filed under: Economy • Ken Robinson • Technology
January 23rd, 2009
10:52 AM ET

The truth about torture

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/22/obama.interrogations/art.obama.orders.gi.jpg caption="President Obama on Thursday signs several orders, one of which dealt with interrogating terror suspects."]

Ken Robinson | BIO
Former Special Operations and Intelligence Officer

"In war, truth is the first casualty." Aeschylus said it 2500 years ago. Yet we are rediscovering this lesson all over again in the debate over torture.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order unequivocally stating that the United States will not condone torture of any human being.


For years, there will be partisan arguments on both sides of this opposition to torture, some claiming it is Pollyannaish and giving up the only effective tool we have at our disposal.

But people on both sides seem to have forgotten a key detail – the truth.

And the truth is - torture doesn't work.


January 12th, 2009
09:58 AM ET

Dante said it best

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Ken Robinson
AC360° Contributor

It's very unfortunate, but it looks like the resources in Washington, DC are going to be focused on politics, over and above solving the financial crisis, terrorism, or something minor, like our national security. During these dangerous times, this generation is really faced with a choice. At a minimum, we should all demand that our elected officials get to work on the nation's business. It's only our future that's at stake.

Dante said it best. "The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."

For more, check out this article.

Filed under: Economy • Ken Robinson • Raw Politics
January 7th, 2009
09:08 AM ET

Truth more important than the pain of discovery

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Ken Robinson | BIO
Former Special Operations and Intelligence officer

I am writing in response to David Gewirtz and his Open letter to President-elect Barack Obama on the White House email controversy. Mr. Gewirtz makes the argument that the computers located in the White House - including the Executive Office of the President, the West Wing, and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building - should be treated as a crime scene.

At first glance, the casual reader might consider this a laughable suggestion. I submit that this idea has merit. It may be the only unbiased opportunity that Americans will have to discover what people knew, and when they knew it, and what people said, and when they said it, regarding the divergence from International and Federal Law by the Bush Administration.


November 28th, 2008
08:55 PM ET

Flash bang in Mumbai – Counter terrorist tactics

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caption="A commando in disguise give details of what went down in the Taj hotel when commandos went in."]
Ken Robinson
Security analyst & former military intelligence officer

Many reports from Mumbai cite gunfire and "grenade" explosions coming from the 5-Star Taj Mahal hotel, the scene of previous terrorist attacks.

It is very possible the gunfire and explosions are actually "room clearing" tactics used by Counter Terrorism forces as they clear rooms.

The tactic of choice is to use what's known as a Flash Bang Simulator, which creates a loud, explosive shock wave, enabling the CT forces to enter a room dynamically, gain a tactical advantage, and overwhelm anyone barracaded inside.

Filed under: India Attacked • Ken Robinson • Terrorism