Monday, February 7, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

This video of Sir Ken Robinson really makes me think about creativity and education, or maybe - the lack of creativity in eduction. He has a very interesting perspective on how creativity has be neglected in education. It is interesting to me because I feel like I am re-learning how to be creative as I move through my Master's program. But, when I think about how kids are "creative" versus how I feel I am "creative," I now view them as two completely different things.

If you don't want to watch the whole 20 min video ... here are a couple of quotes that I really latched on to:

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

We are "educating people out of their creative capabilities."

"Creativity is as important to education as literacy."

This last one is one that really struck me. Is creativity as important to education as literacy? And, if it is, why aren't we encouraging it? Who determined that Math and Science get more attention than the Arts in schools ... and why? Creativity is a different part of the brain that needs to be developed and if this part of the brain is further developed, what could the advantages for our future be?

The definition of "creative" given by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: the ability or power to create. This definition actually makes me wonder if Sir Ken Robinson's theory that we are "educating people out of creativity," is actually accurate. I am currently being creative by writing this blog.

This just raises the question of "what is creativity?" which relates to the Wysocki, Johnson-Eilola piece because the whole time I was reading it, I just kept asking myself, "What is literacy?" The very last paragraph in this piece reads, "None of these terms exhausts new possibilities for 'literacy,' but only suggest productive ways of questioning our current positions, of unpacking old bundles and remaking new ones. Unpack ours and make your own." I think "creativity" and "literacy" can be interchangeable here. Just like literacy, the meaning of creativity can evolve and change over time depending on experiences and environments.

So, do I think schools kill creativity? Well, kinda. I think there should definitely be more of an effort to encourage students to think "creatively" as well as "critically." I think art and music classes, especially at younger ages, should be valued just as much as math and science classes. However, I believe that the meaning of "creativity" can differ greatly depending on the school a student goes to, what their particular talents are, and what they ultimately want to do when they grow up. And, especially as we get older, it really is our responsibility to figure out what "creativity" means to us and "unpack ours and make [our] own."


  1. You raise a very intriguing point about what is creativity really. I agree with you that definition can differ based on various factors within a particular person and based on a particular school, but something else struck me about your post.

    "I think art and music classes, especially at younger ages, should be valued just as much as math and science classes." This made me wonder where the line is drawn; when does music, art, etc becomes unimportant (or less important) to a student's development and education? Maybe the answer is never; maybe those classes should always be components of the curriculum. Maybe the answer is once a student hits a certain age and figures our that hey, I really am not very good at (fill in the blank), then maybe those classes become less important at best, a struggle at worst. And I think the challenge for us as educators is that as the "creative" classes are eliminated from schools, how can we infuse creativity and spark interest in other ways in our students?

  2. I think creativity is an important aspect of how literacy actually materializes. It is disappointing that educators forget the value of cultivating this creativity. Everyone agrees that learners need critical thinking skills in order to be successful in all classes. It takes a lot of creativity for the brain to process ideas and make connections! The courses that center on the act of creativity are sort of like exercises that the brain can use to strengthen the ability to think critically. It is like taking the weights and exercise machines out of the gym when schools discard courses in the arts.