Thursday, July 18, 2013

Schooled in Creativity

Do schools kill creativity? I have three answers. Yes, in the past schools have killed creativity. Currently, a change is happening. In the future, schools will not kill creativity. These are bold statements but let me back them up.
If you view Sir Ken Robinson’s video (2007): Do Schools Kill Creativity?, he starts on 3 positive notes.

1) There are exceptionally creative people. I will make the assumption that some of them are educators.

2) The future is undetermined. So we have the ability to improve schools.

3) Children have a huge capacity for creativity. If we rise to the challenge, they will meet us and carry us into the future.

However, he goes on to say all children have creative talents and we squander them. In his opinion, schools should treat creativity with same importance as literacy. I would agree. Schools have followed a traditional model. Take language, science, and math, the important subjects and you will go to a university and have a good job. Now many people need a Masters to stand out from the pack and still finding a job is tough. According to Howard Gardner (2008), preschool children have a natural affinity for creativity. So why do we “squander” it? The standards education employs have nothing to do with creativity and set the bar low for those who have traditional talents. Furthermore, those who don’t have an aptitude of standardized tests or have talents not recognized by standardized tests are not going to be able to show their knowledge or creativity. Do we really want everyone to be standard? The answer is no if we are going to survive the future economy or state of the planet.

Here’s what going to happen and some of it already is. Education will become individualized. Students will be learning online and will be able to choose their instruction. In a county neighboring mine, in an affluent area, kindergarteners are expected to be doing their homework online every night. This is required. Public education will be learning from home. This will be the school’s version homeschooling for those who can afford it. Many school divisions give their students laptops however many parts of my county do not have internet access. The public library is going to have to get a lot more stations or the county is going to have to go wi-fi. Of course I am only talking about technology as it is now. These children can’t supervise themselves so maybe they will come to school and check into their own stations. This is how it is and how I have heard it is going to be. It will not be possible to live and be educated without technology.

Young people are resourceful and not afraid to ask questions in social media or online websites. They are able to go to many sources quickly to seek their answers but they are going to IM or text a friend to see if they already know where to look. I was surprised many have online mentors. How did they find these mentors and will school teachers be replaced by these online mentors? Why do they need to ask a teacher when they can find their own online expert? What does this expertise cost? Technology is the key to their social and educational lives. I have synthesized this information form a report called Project Tomorrow. Although the study was published in 2010, the information is still relevant.

Gardner (2008) mentions Google’s practice of letting employs work on a project of their choice one day a week. I think that would be an excellent idea for schools. Classrooms teachers have common planning on Fridays at our school so I propose that during that planning students are allowed to pursue a project of their own interest while another adult is supervising them in the classroom. Gardner (2008) recommends that students learn the art of critique so they will know the difference between constructive criticism and criticism they can ignore. When I looked up “critique for a young artist” an entry from Esty (2012) caught my eye. Under that heading, a 21 year old artist was asking for a critique of her online Esty shop. A savvy 12 year who had an impressive shop herself, responded to give her a sound and encouraging critique. They are both impressive business women and their creativity is taking them into the future.

Etsy.(2012) Art Critique: Art Critque for young artist. Retrieved from

Gardner, Howard. (2008). Five minds for the Future. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Project Tomorrow. (2010). Creating Our Future: Students Speak Up About Their Vision for 21st Century Learning. Retrieved from

TedtalksDirector. (2007, Jan.). Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity? [Video file]. Retrieved from

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