Are we killing creativity in schools?


This past week, as I endured a what should have been three hour, turned five and a half hour, drive to my hometown in the stormy weather inching along the 405 Freeway, I decided turn on TED talks. I happened upon this one in particular by Ken Robinson titled "Do Schools Kill Creativity" where he questions the nature of our education systems and advocates for a change in the system that would promote creativity. He brings a direct connection to visual and performing arts and how they are often undermined in academics but are nonetheless powerful learning routes.

His words profoundly moved me as I resonated with so much of what he had to say.

He points out that there are so many creative individuals that exit the school system or even abandon it because they carry the belief that they don't do well when, however, the issue is not with their academic ability but rather that the subjects in which they excel at are either devalued or stigmatized within the education system. A system that globally shares a similar hierarchy with Math, Language, and Humanities at the top, and in this particular order, Art, Music, Theatre, and Dance trailing behind.

This is all, he explains, because of the way we view intelligence. I couldn't help but think back to Gardner's Multiple Intelligence Theory which contradicts measuring intelligence by IQ but rather divides it into eight other categories that summarize different types of intelligence. I highly agree with this theory because after all, everyone is good at something.

Robinson notes that too often, people are told don't pursue this or don't do that (typically pertaining to the arts) on the grounds that they won't get a job. Being an art student and artist myself, that's one of those phrases that will make me think something sort of like, "boy, if I had a nickel for every time I heard that".

He also calls out the system in the way academics have taken on a sort of inflation, where degrees today don't hold the same worth as they used to because jobs nowadays typically require higher degrees. Having just recently graduated with my degree, I too have debated the worth of my diploma as it hangs upon my wall, knowing that despite the degree, the job I want isn't yet available until I finish higher education.

The last important point made by him that I wanted to remark upon is that regarding the creativity in children. Recently I have been working with second graders on a weekly basis, teaching art classes and I am just astonished and blown away by not just the creativity levels they have but especially with their fearless desire to share their ideas, to answer questions even if they don't know the correct answer. Looking in my own college classrooms, this eagerness to try, without the fear of making mistakes or embarassment, is nearly lost. Robinson quotes Picasso "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Although not the biggest fan of Picasso, I love this quote and find it's a great one to remind myself when struggling with creativity myself. Artist or not, I think it's a good quote for anyone to consider because there are a number of child-like qualities that we unfortunately lose.

Overall, this is probably one of my favorite TED talks, especially now as I'm pursuing a career in education.

Does anyone else have thoughts on the idea of reforming the education system with all of these points in mind?

#education #art #creativity #schools #intelligence #dance #music #academics