Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

When I heard the profoundly entertaining words and witty perspective of Ken Robinson, I almost cried. I started this blog for people seeking their place in the sun, a niche where they belong professionally. Here is a man who said it all for me. People's unhappiness and confusion can be attributed to a general educational system that kills creativity, according to Sir Ken Robinson.

I remember how I used to get very mediocre grades in 4th grade, simply because I couldn't remember the hundreds of names in the muscular and skeletal system. I also recall how I was sent to the guidance counselor during my senior year because my teachers were concerned that I was not paying attention, that I was always, as they would say, "spaced out". I also needed to draw in my notebooks so I could understand what's going on, and survived school by getting bonus points with my drawings in reports (Kids, back then we had no ClipArt gallery and no Google images!). The only reason I liked Math was when I got to draw shapes, angles and graphs using colored pens but I still almost failed anyway. My math skills improved when I started earning my own money after college, and my intelligence in science kicked off as soon as I started mixing artist's solvents and when I started to cook. I was also a late bloomer as a reader because I only liked Tintin comics, and colorful books with lots of pictures. I cheated through my book reports by spinning off stories from the summaries at the back (which my teachers saw through!). My favorite time of the day in school was when I got to eat.

Sir Ken Robinson raises an interesting point: that professors shouldn't be the hallmark of success or intelligence because most of the time, they live in their heads. We have an educational system that works on everything waist up. Everything academic, everything cerebral is given much weight. He also mentioned that in 30 years, degrees will probably be useless and obsolete.

I actually believe him.

He mentions back in the day a diploma guaranteed him a job. Now, you need an MA because the BA isn't good enough. The jobs that require the MA now need a PhD. He observes that you now have a bunch of people with sparkling degrees who stay at home and play video games all day.

So now what?

As expected, I was never encouraged to be an artist or a writer because they said I will starve for the rest of my life. As a former educator in a mainstream school, I felt bad most times when teachers would belittle students with mediocre grades in major subjects and talk about it like the student was a big joke. I joined the educational system in hopes of finding students who are just like me and do better in their lives sooner than I did.

Today, I draw and write for a living about things I enjoy most: food, art, music and travel. At 27, it wasn't too late for me to make the choice and I'm glad I took a chance on myself. It had to take the prodding of mentors, creative souls and the faith of friends who told me to just go for it.

Gillian Lynne, the famous choreographer of "Cats" was considered a below-par student who kept fidgeting and lacked focus. She was brought to a doctor by her mother to be examined for behavior. Her mother narrated Gillian's "problems" to the doctor. Later on, the good doctor asked the mother to step out with him so they could discuss privately. He turned the radio on and left the room. Then, he told Gillian's mom to look inside the room. There was Gillian, dancing to the music from the radio. He advised her to send Gillian to a dancing school. He simply said, "Your daughter is a dancer. Send her to a dance school." And when she went to dance school, she saw everyone was just like her --- kids who had to keep moving in order to learn.

Let the children dance, sing, cook, paint, sculpt, write and whatever it is that makes their hearts sing. People are not machines where data can simply be encoded, programmed, controlled and re-calibrated. We have feelings, we can taste, smell, hear, feel and see things.

If only we let the child's imagination, senses and creativity flourish, change will be massive and beautiful.


Thought For The Day

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Here is something interesting:

"If you're not prepared to be wrong,
you'll never come up with anything original."

--- Sir Ken Robinson


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