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Do Schools Kill Creativity? A review of the Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk

Every human has the capacity for creativity; this is produced in a place of the unknown. The curious thing though is our impalpable knack to subdue these capacities for the singular cry of good grades in a flawed educational system, a good secure job which becomes sadly disenfranchising after a few happy years and worst of all, living an unfulfilled life of utmost discontent. Ironically, the bulk of our emotional attachments in life fall heavily on the level of school-smart achievements rather than these jobs we so crave for as results of the process the world now calls, an ivy league education; commensurate with the fact that this uncontrollable attachment causes a light-up each time one is given the opportunity to talk about these achievements as opposed to their “boring” job. Reason is education is one of those things that cut really deep; like religion and money.

If education had feelings, she would have probably said, “…you stabbed me in the back”, however, I think she forgets that a frontal assault is imminent as she holds the entire universe hostage by principles that probably worked in the industrial age brought forward to the information age without fear or favor, in a process of the blind leading the blind. The first of the blinds’ being education, without a promise of certainty of the future and we, the culprits, with a feigning will to make decisive changes to a system that worked over a century ago and has little relevance to the direction of the fast-paced world, considering the rate of change of both economic and technological advancements. A child who starts school now and has no clue of what the future holds, passes through this same black system, retires at about 60, looks back at his life and is most likely disappointed because he did not achieve his heartfelt dream, which was sucked away by the progressive dwindling of his creative capacity for innovation through the entire educational process of his lifetime. A sad think-back!

Do Schools Kill CreativityWe have placed so much value on degrees that there is a growing epidemic of academic inflation; degrees have lost the edge they once had in that, as far back as the 19th century, if you had a degree, you were guaranteed a job. Now, even a Bachelor’s, doesn’t cut it anymore, the requirements to keep up, keep pushing up. Intelligence is misjudged and the mark of all intelligence uses a yardstick of educational qualifications. Is this right? The view of intelligence should not be a lopsided affair and ideally should be in three parts: the first is intelligence being diverse. The world is thought of in all the ways it is experienced. We think visually, in sound, in motion, in abstract terms and kinesthetically.

This brings inherent variety into the mix. Second, intelligence is dynamic. There is no better way to explain this dynamism with the different brain multitask mechanisms of men and women; with the former more inclined to focusing on one task at a time and the latter with immense ability to undertake multiple jobs all at once. For instance, the male may just want to watch that football game, he shuts out any other life issues for the period of the match whilst the female, may be watching a movie, cooking, talking to the kids and painting the ceiling all at once. Fascinating! Isn’t it? Third and final, intelligence is distinct. Every being on earth who has achieved great things probably has a different story from the next; in fact, most do, as the details of the journey of two people are most likely varied. These should be the bedrock for any judgment in intelligence; something we know is gravely misconstrued.

Consider this: public industrial-age styled educational systems around the world are very similar, with Math and languages at the top, followed by humanities and the arts respectively. The arts are further segmented into art and music, dance and drama. A curious fact being that no educational system on earth teaches dance the way Math is taught. Why? Because we have lived for decades with the notion that intelligence is predicated only on academic ability in these top areas and if you follow a more artistic area you are doomed for failure; a continuous vicious cycle that holds professorship as the highest form of human achievement. This leads to a battle of wits between creativity and education.

Do Schools Kill Creativity Sir Ken RobinsonCreativity being the process where there is no fear to take the plunge and be wrong, a design of learn and discover where nothing on the surface of the earth would’ve been discovered that was discovered. Take the case of a “nativity” play of a bunch of four year olds giving gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. The first walks up and the presents his saying, “I bring you Gold”, the second says, “I bring you myrrh” and the third, “Frank sent this!” – Funny enough, he was asked after the play if he thought he did well, got feedback and probably found out the right thing. How many of us will take that chance wherever we are in the moment, just for the benefit of being that creative force we are all cut-out to be? Of course, being wrong doesn’t necessarily mean being creative but you must be prepared to be wrong to be creative. As Picasso said, “All children are born artists”, the problem is keeping that fire burning which requires taking calculated chances for that full life.

Education on the other hand, when followed through the eyes of its description here, is the primary force behind all annulment of inherent creative order flowing from any child and progressive development of fear becomes the order of the day which inhibits any creation to innovative ends. All of our life is predicated on this fear, from our homes to schools even to companies, the fear of being wrong supersedes the desire to be creative in this our era of the need for speed in innovative circles.

After all is said and done, we must strive to pick this mantle of change and wear the badge of honor to creatively be creative in developing better educational systems, encouraging kids to follow their passions and dreams and ultimately making the world a better place for all stakeholders; a transformational process of human ecology!

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