The prevailing mood in the education space today reminds me a little bit of Turkish coffee.

Served very bitter and also very sweet (at least, the way I like it), it’s strong but balanced.

Administrators and teachers paying attention to the latest developments in educational technology are both incredibly skeptical and incredibly hopeful about the coming revolution in their field.

Because even though veteran educators have been hearing about the disruptive power of edtech for years, the technology has only just caught up with the vision of worldwide access to quality learning content. Though, unfortunately, the growing crisis in institutionalized education seems to have reached critical mass at the same time.

So the race is on.

And when Sir Ken Robinson delivered the keynote address at ISTE 2012 Sunday night, I totally drank the Kool-Aid. I really believe that passionate educators, wielding the right tech tools, can transform education.

There’s going to be a lot of push-back and red tape. But as we start the messy, complicated process of  ”retiring the phrase ’21st Century Learning’ and replacing it with ‘Learning’” (to quote @henrythiele, who was retweeted over 350 times during the conference), it’s enormously encouraging to know that so many educators are working together on this problem.

Here are Sir Ken’s eight driest and most astute observations to keep us on track and encouraged along the way.

  • Education has never been a hotter political topic. But kids and parents and teachers are losing interest in the discussion.
  • The “No Child Left Behind Act” proves Americans in fact DO understand irony.
  • The challenge facing us is three fold: 1) What does it take to truly engage kids? 2) How can we use technology to help do that? 3) And what policy do we need to help technology help teachers with engagement?
  • Schools operate under a suffocating culture of standardization when we need just the opposite.
  • The beauty of human civilization springs from a foundation of diversity.
  • Nearly a third of high schoolers do not graduate. Imagine a business that lost 30% of its customers. Totally unacceptable.
  • Find your element. Albert Einstein was right when he said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
  • The evaporation of public funds for the arts is a catastrophe. How will children know if they love to paint if they have never picked up a paint brush?

And you haven’t watched Sir Ken’s original TED Talk, Changing Education Paradigms (illustrated by RSA Animate), give it a look. Now that we’re able to better define the problems with education, we’re getting closer all the time to lasting real world solutions.