I’m a huge fan of Ken Robinson’s TED Talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” It’s funny and interesting; a great way to inspire your students. At the beginning, he comments that everyone is interested in education. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a teacher, so that applies to you. It also applies to your students, too.

The following is a lesson plan designed for a highly communicative speaking lesson. This is aimed at upper-intermediate level students, but with subtitles you may want to use the video with lower levels as a way to inspire more simply discussions. It’s a great way to get your students working on new ideas for the IELTS exam. Of course, education is a common IELTS topic but students are often so constrained by what they want to talk about, and this lesson should help them expand to more interesting discussion ideas.

Lesson Plan


Use the following questions as a lead-in. Point out that 1,3, and 4 might in different forms appear in the IELTS exam. 

  1. What are the most important subjects at school?
  2. What is literacy?
  3. What is the purpose of education?
  4. What is intelligence?
  5. What is the meaning of MA, BA, PhD, ADHD?



Key Vocabulary

Pre-teach the following vocabulary. One way is to let students take 5 mins to look up the words in a dictionary. Another is to explain or demonstrate meaning. Then do the gap fill exercise below.

Vested interest (in)                                       Predicated (on)

Capacity                                                            Industrialism

Curious                                                              Stigmatize

Transformation                                              Distinct

Dynamic                                                            Diverse

  1. Investors should have a _____________ portfolio to minimalize risk.
  2. Banks have a ______________ in the growth of their customers.
  3. The new hard drive has a much larger ____________ than the previous one. It can store 15,000 movies.
  4. The company is seeking a new CEO. Above all, he or she should be a ___________ businessperson.
  5. The sales forecast is __________________ the assumption that the current market trend will continue.



Get your students to watch the video and take notes. Tell them that they won’t be required to answer specific questions. This video is just for inspiration. Discussion questions based upon it will follow.

Watch the video and take notes. It is called “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” and is given by Ken Robinson.



Go through the following questions with your students. Give them time to discuss in small groups and then pick students to answer aloud. I like to point out similarities to the IELTS here. For example, questions 1 and 2 take a similar form to IELTS Writing Task 2 questions. Question 3 asks for an example, which is a vital IELTS skill.

  1. Robinson says “If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue—despite all the expertise that’s been on parade for the past four days—what the world will look like in five years’ time. And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it.” How can education prepare children for the future?


  1. Robinson says “My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” Do you agree? Why?/Why not?


  1. Robinson argues that “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” Can you illustrate Robinson’s opinion with an example?


  1. According to Robinson, “the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors.” Do you agree? What should the purpose of public education be?


  1. Robinson says that “Suddenly, degrees aren’t worth anything. Isn’t that true? When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn’t have a job it’s because you didn’t want one. . . . But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games, because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other.” Is this true in China?




Professor Ken Robinson gave a very famous lecture on the importance of creativity in education. He suggested ways in which education is flawed, and ways in which the system could be improved.

What do think could be done to improve the education system? Demonstrate flaws within the current system and suggest changes. Show how this would benefit students and also the whole world.