Creativity in Schools

I’m not sure what I think of all of this, but it’s really interesting to me. I’m planning on asking my alternative certification teachers about it. As public school teachers, would they be offended or do they see some of the same things themselves? I know that in my observations, I’ve seen teachers who are very concerned about the well-being of all their students. The “condemning mistakes” idea in the video may be true of the system, but I don’t think I’d say it’s true within the classroom – at least not the ones I’ve seen. Anyway, as a future teacher myself, I’m just wrestling with all these issues for the first time  and hope to hear back from more experienced teachers with their reactions to this video.

Ken Robinson says this in his TED talk. (Click the link or scroll to the bottom to watch the video. It’s about 20min, but it’s really interesting stuff.)

Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. . . and by the time they are adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They become frightened to be wrong, and we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso said this: “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” I believe this passionately – that “We don’t grow into creativity. We grow out of it.” or rather, we get educated out of it. . . . .

If you were to visit the education system as an alien and say, What’s it for? (Public Education) I think you’d have to conclude that, if you look at the output, you know, Who really succeeds by this? Who does everything they should? Who gets all the brownie points? You know, Who are the winners? I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. . . . And I like university professors. I used to be one, but there’s something curious about them. Not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It’s a way of getting their head to meetings. . .

The whole education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason, the whole system was invented. . . Around the world there were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. . . You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you’d never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music. You’re not gonna be a musician. Don’t do art. You’re not gonna be an artist. Benign advise. . . Universities designed the system in their own image. The consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not. Because the thing they were good at in school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way. . .

We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence. We know three things about intelligence: 1) It’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually. We think it sound. We think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms. We think in movement. 2) Intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of the human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity . . . more often than not comes about by the interaction of interdisciplinary ways of seeing things. . .3) Intelligence is distinct. . .

Our educational system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth – for a certain commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principals on which we are educating our children.

I have been studying to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher who is able to encourage students in every way – one who is able to recognize different gifts and abilities – even outside the realm of the subject I am hired to teach. I have also learned in my years of church work that sometimes the best education is the one that comes through mistakes. If it’s true that in order to be creative, one has to be willing to make mistakes, then maybe we should be celebrating mistakes from students those who are actually trying. I wonder how I can foster these kinds of attitudes in my classroom?

Here’s the video:

3 thoughts on “Creativity in Schools

  1. Nancy

    Why do you think we public school teachers are condemning our students for mistakes?

    I do not agree that we have steered our students away from things they may not make a living at later in life. I think we try very hard to provide a variety of opportunities and experiences in the public school setting to combat the “training for tests” and mind numbing elements of what legislatures deem education. Those of us “in the trenches” are so much more encouraging to our students and fostering their creativity than the so-called-experts can even imagine!

    There is so much more to teaching than the curriculum. Many students really need flat out LOVE! I spend as much time teaching courtesy, hygiene, social skills, self-respect and worthiness as I do the TEKS!

    1. Steve Corn Post author

      Nancy, I don’t think public school teachers are condemning students for mistakes. I was only reporting what the guy said on the video. Did you watch it?

      I intended for the beginning of my post to raise the very issues that you raised. As I have been doing my “observation hours.” I have witnessed many of the teachings that are outside the curriculum. As a matter of fact, you know me well enough to know that those are the parts I’m the most excited about.

      I just thought the guy had some interesting points. I was told not to be a musician as a kid ’cause there was no stability in it. I also liked the way he launched into the whole “multiple intelligences” issue. I’m not sure, but maybe this video was done before they were working to get teachers on board with all that stuff?? You probably know the answer to that better than I.

      I don’t believe that teachers see “university professors” as their goal, but I can’t help but wonder about the systems (or as you put it the “mind numbing elements”) that legislatures are putting in place? Are they contributing to his viewpoint?? Are those things condemning mistakes? Are they killing creativity by handcuffing teachers to irrelevant stuff?

      Nancy, as a future teacher, I’m just wrestling through some of these issues for the first time. I need people like you to help me wade through it. I hope I didn’t give people the wrong impression with my post.

    2. Steve Corn Post author

      I reread that last part and now I can see why you’d think that’s what I was saying. I should be more careful about how I say things on here. I reworded some of it.

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