I think “schools” in this question is a broad term. Do teachers kill creativity? Does administration kill creativity? Do state/federal laws kill creativity? I think that most schools don’t want to kill creativity, but unfortunately, the politics of education can kill creativity. Schools are required to implement standards, value results of high stakes testing, and even judge educator success based on student academic achievement, regardless of student location, socioeconomic status, and special needs. Despite these parameters, I think that teachers and schools do care about creativity. Our system of education doesn’t necessarily seem to value creativity anymore, but that makes our job of fostering creativity in our classrooms even more important. Ken Robinson’s talk was hilarious, thoughtful, and poignant. I don’t usually feel so affected by academic presentations; I felt like he was actually talking to me. He make some really amazing points that stayed with me.
“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go” (Robinson, 2006). This is a really simple but true statement. Kids in elementary school aren’t as afraid as we are as adults. They often say and do things naturally; they aren’t embarrassed like us to ask the questions and find answers. At some point in time, this ends. We no longer just ask or say what we feel, and I think Sir Robinson makes an excellent point about this, and it needs to change. We need to make learners throughout their lives feel that participating, asking questions, and being wrong is okay. It’s totally fine. That has to start in the classroom. His idea to lengthen this time of exploring and asking really stayed with me. In the talk he also said, “we are educated out of creativity” (Robinson, 2006). We concentrate so much on standards and academic subjects like literacy and mathematics, and it is crushing potential creative minds and their talents and creations. Most of us have all heard we should go to school for something that will result in a job. We have been steered away from passions and dreams knowing that educating ourselves further in something “useless” won’t result in prosperity or happiness. As teachers, we need to steer away from this. We have to teach students that we value whatever it is that they’re good at.
A final thought Robinson had that was important to me was that as teachers we need to use the gift of human imagination (Robinson, 2006). Creating is important, no matter what it is. We need to teach our students that it’s okay to like things others don’t. It’s okay to stay after school for a club their friends might not like, draw pictures at night if they’re bored, or to not quit dance class because they’re too worried about their reading homework. I thought a lot about my sister throughout Robinson’s talk. She was average (maybe a little below average!) academically in high school. It was all due to a lack of effort, not because she wasn’t intelligent. The only thing she cared about was acting. Despite the cost and fear it might not work out, my parents encouraged her and supported her dreams of going to school for musical theater. As a teacher, and as a parent, I hope to be that open minded. Teaching students to use their imagination, and encouraging them to follow their passions will help our amazing little thinkers and creators be successful in the future, no matter what academic or career path they choose to take.
Robinson, K. (2006, February). How schools kill creativity. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity#t-680867