Schools Kill Creativity

About this video: “Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.”

Here’s a snippet:

Now our 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. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.

This TED video is brilliant. Please do spend 20 minutes watching it. Sir Ken Robinson speaks of the flaws in the current education system, and the need for change. In his video he includes several true stories from his life and from others to show how creativity can blossom in life, when seen in the right light. When treated as the beauty that it is.

I remember vividly my teachers and many of those outside of school telling me that I was stupid to pick a humanities subject (art, music, dance, religious studies etc.) because I could not make a career out of it. They told me that what was important were the subjects such as maths and languages. In high school we only had the option of choosing two subjects of our own alongside all the sciences, maths, literature and language. Creativity, passion, was neglected. As Sir Ken Robinson put it quite rightly, it was stigmatized. The education system leaves little space for you to think for yourself or to grow in your true passions.

They said no to humanities subjects. And here I am wanting to study Theology and become an Anglican priest. Where did that leave me in the early years of education? How was I to be nurtured in that? If the education system had been different, would I have found out what I really wanted, who I really was, faster? Would it have benefited me? I expect so.

I remember my first Religious Studies class in Primary School. It was an hour long and I remember where I was sat on the carpet. Who was speaking. What she said. How I felt. How I ran at the end of the school day and jumped up and down with the biggest smile on my face because it was like I had found my meaning in life. My passion. I was 8 years old. We had a few more lessons, but very few. We were pushed towards maths and English. What if a teacher had recognized the passion in me? What if, instead of spending the next 6 years from them feeling like I did not understand who I was, someone had recognized the creative, passionate burst in me? What if a teacher had stopped telling me that technology and mathematics were the necessities for later life, and had instead explained to me that it is about your personal gifts?

Even now as I study in college, I have found that rather than thinking for yourself, you are simply required to memorize and spout back information. The one unit of my college year which asked me to think for myself was Philosophy of Religion. I scored 97%. But I got a C at the end of my first quarter of Classical Civilization in which I was required to memorize huge chunks of information and timelines. And yet Universities would not accept me into their programme to study Religious Studies / Theology without two other A Levels as well as my Religious Studies grade and clear passion and love for the subject. Theology is at the center of my life. I connect it to everything. So why would they reject me?

I and so many have been brought up to be told that intellectual status is everything. How wrong they are. Life is about finding happiness, sharing love, and being the unique person that you are.

Picasso said “all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”

Please watch Sir Ken Robinson’s video. Have a think. We need the system to change. It does not work.

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