Last year I started poll on LinkedIn addressing influence of Public education on our creativity. I posted well known Ken Robinson video and waited for the poll answers.
I was taken by surprise how much this topic is hot, and what contributions were left.
In this post I wish to share with you the brilliance of people involved in the discussion.
“You have to know the rules before you can break them. All things will stifle your creativity or stimulate it to a certain degree and so in that sense, public education won’t kill creativity, but it will guide it towards something which is an acceptable norm within the constraints of established thinking. “
“One should be careful with phrases like that old silly stuff of “deschooling society” the very expression of narcissistic intellectualism. Education is good by itself, schools too. We can certainly make them better and better.”
Gabriel A. Ramirez • The question itself is tricky. In some way implies that education kills creativity. It puts education under suspect. A much better question is daniel Vauldrin’s and, perhaps an still a better one is: What ca one do to help education and educators to enhance, through educational systems, creativity even and more? One should be careful with phrases like that old silly stuff of “deschooling society” the very expression of narcissistic intellectualism. Or such a good music with lyrics that goes like this “… We don’t need no education, we don´t need school control. Teacher, teacher lives the kid alone” The authors of that music did never ever imagine that with that lyrics they were so massively contributing to today overabundance of “bricks in the wall” all over the world and specially in Britain. Education is good by itself, schools too. We can certainly make them better and better.
Job hiring: “Much emphasis has been put on their having a degree, and less on what they bring to the table in regards to real experience, expertise, skills, and abilities.“
“Freedom to self-determination leads to more creative behaviour!”
“I lost my independence of thought. So, along about 10 years of “professional career”, I ended up seeing that it was exactly those personal traces that were so much frowned upon that were actually valuable in the real world: autonomy of opinion, transversal thinking, imagination… the things I had to keep in a box in order to succeed in academia are the things society actually needs in order to survive and thrive.”
Vasco Névoa • Like Ian, I agree that we are first and foremost the sum of our experiences. Hence we cannot escape the shared experience that is school. It formats us, whether we like school or not. The deeper question is then: shouldn’t we be more than just that sum? We all believe that we should be capable of using all that experience in novel ways, by remixing it and re-contextualizing it, and we see the world becomes better when we do it. The problem is that this creative thinking implies “doing things differently”. Stepping outside the norm. And being different, like Michelle pointed out, is usually frowned upon in the academic world. It starts in the kindergarten and goes all the way up to college. If you act differently, you’re either weird or cheating. And this is one point where I’d like to make a positive criticism: not all cheating is bad. Some of it is quite creative. Some of it is creative enough to make a difference in the capacity for survival in extreme or unusual conditions (like, say, a global crisis?) Personally, I was always the “different” kind of student. Mostly I was just weird and sometimes loud-mouthed, and sometimes I felt I had to cheat to survive like anyone else. It was a very long and very tough fight, and by the time I finished college I thought I had won: I knew the system and more or less how to navigate it with moderate success. I kept my imagination to myself and just concentrated on being “compatible”, which made me an excellent asset for any company who was looking for a robotic humanoid to expand their production line. But in truth, I had lost. I lost my independence of thought. So, along about 10 years of “professional career”, I ended up seeing that it was exactly those personal traces that were so much frowned upon that were actually valuable in the real world: autonomy of opinion, transversal thinking, imagination… the things I had to keep in a box in order to succeed in academia are the things society actually needs in order to survive and thrive. I’ve been investing in my old self for the past few years, trying to recover that imaginative child that didn’t take “no” as an acceptable option. The good news is that I’m slowly getting there. The bad news is that there is a critical point of no return, at least apparently, and that others are not as lucky. Some of my classmates fared very well in academia, but very poorly outside. They forgot how to think independently, and worst of all they lost their self-confidence. I know some other people that just gave up their mind, transformed into a neural message recorder, a knowledge sponge, and are now capable of memorising just about anything you throw at them, but are utterly incapable of criticising what they have learned. These are the casualties of the “education war”, for we are at war with our nature when we force ourselves to memorise something we don’t even like. And they happen because school is a massive logistic system, and most people believe it must be managed as such, leaving no room for individuality — that would be too complex to manage. Criticising constructively, I believe that “cheating” must be revised. The system must welcome some forms of cheating. For example, if a student blatantly copies another student’s test by peeking over the shoulder, that’s plain stealing and no benefit comes from it. But if two or three students work together to split the heavy curriculum between themselves and share their knowledge during the exams, that’s actually very organised and competitive team work. The kind of successful team work that companies kill for. This is another aspect I think the schooling system has to seriously improve in the short term: promote self-reliance and individuality via team work. Less individual exams, more team challenges. And more group learning. Cramming 30 to 50 kids into the same classroom in front of a teacher is not group learning; they have to be able to experience the subject freely, to discuss, to debate, to contradict, to find the logic behind it — TOGETHER. This is what takes people to finding their place in society — a place where they feel useful, not the first place where they can survive. Like Melanie says, there are some fantastic teachers out there, I had some. Unfortunately they are fighting a loosing battle against the majority of bosses, colleagues, students, and parents. This positivism of believing in the individual student and bringing out its best personal features is something that has to be institutionalized, or we will just keep making humanoid robots. Which are defective by nature, in that role. Some of the “alternative” northern european and north-american schools have achieved this goal. But why are they viewed as the exception instead of an excellent example to follow? Because of logistics. It is far easier to control a system with a simplistic rule set, than it is to care for quality.
“My final thought is that creativity and originality have to be valued. The older a student gets, the more difficult it is for that student to offer original insights without being laughed at. After being ridiculed a few times by peers, that student will most likely keep her mouth shut the next time she has an idea. It doesn’t matter how much encouragement she gets from her teacher, she will not share it. After a while, she might even stop getting those ideas. What’s the point anyway? On the other hand, what if students got marks for original ideas or clever ways of finding solutions? What if we really looked at the work in progress and not just the final outcome?”
Michelle Vaudrin • People go to school in the hopes of getting into the university and the program of their choice. So what do American students do to get into university? They study for the SATs. I have never written the SATs, so I would like to know the following: Does the SAT have a section to evaluate creativity? (If it can really be evaluated.) Does the test look at HOW the students got their answers, or is it only the end result that is looked at? As for Canadians, we have to get high grades. To get high grades, you have to give the teacher what the teacher wants. Yes, there are teachers who encourage creativity, curiosity, and spontaneous discussions. Just last week, I was teaching history/geography to grade 5 and 6 students, and we were really into the Canadian Shield and rock formation. I kept looking at my watch worried about not having enough time to finish my lesson. I found myself saying, “Ok, guys. We have to stop this discussion now. We still have all these pages to cover for today.” I felt disgusted with myself afterwards. As a teacher, I constantly feel this pressure to cover the whole government program. I also have the parents to worry about in the private sector. “What did you do in class today Johnny?” Imagine the parents’ faces when they hear, “Oh, we just looked at rocks and talked about them.” My final thought is that creativity and originality have to be valued. The older a student gets, the more difficult it is for that student to offer original insights without being laughed at. After being ridiculed a few times by peers, that student will most likely keep her mouth shut the next time she has an idea. It doesn’t matter how much encouragement she gets from her teacher, she will not share it. After a while, she might even stop getting those ideas. What’s the point anyway? On the other hand, what if students got marks for original ideas or clever ways of finding solutions? What if we really looked at the work in progress and not just the final outcome?
My original question was:
Can public education kill our creativity? (http://linkd.in/ehGsqy)