The argument that school kills creativity is, no matter how you look at it, pretty sound. It has no immediate faults, especially when taking into account the test-based, no child left behind school environment children in the United States are currently subjected to as part of the overarching model of education. The logic is horrifyingly simple, if right is right and wrong is wrong, what else could there possibly be?
The goal of education, especially in the later stages i.e. college degrees, is to educate students and prime them for success. Future earnings are obviously dependent on good schooling so failure is not an option. It is a necessity to graduate from high school, college and, in 2012, a masters or doctorate program in order to firmly establish future career earnings. The way society has structured everything, students need to earn solid grades, attend a reputable college institution and build a strong professional network that will lead to a great career. To put it in a mathematical or ‘schooling’ term, review the following formula:
[strong gpa + good/great standardized test scores = desired college] + [specific grad program + wide network = career job] = success
Sounds perfect because it is. Students are happy, educators are ecstatic, parents are pleased and employers have jobs filled so everybody wins. Well, perhaps not. Students are so worried about failing that they spend countless hours cramming and studying before finally crashing in a desperate act of recuperation. Educators, who want to actually teach information, are constantly worried about passing enough students through that they must focus primarily on what is actually tested. Parents witness their children being stifled and unhappy during the schooling but tell themselves it is all for the best. Even employers lose since they get tired and desperate graduates who need the job-finding validation of their life’s efforts. It is exhausting.
Schooling today, in a strictly non-mathematical terms, is not fun. The human brain is not given enough opportunity to flourish creatively through various outlets like writing, playing an instrument or flat out down time where literally nothing is happening but actual thoughts flowing aimlessly in a state of actual thinking. Since schools have little or limited funding, they are forced to make cuts which usually happens in ‘the arts,’ a.k.a. the creative programs, thus ensuring success in the core S.T.E.M. class. It is a bad cycle. The regurgitation of facts, cram sessions of soon-to-be-forgotten terms and boxed-in essays allow little to no room for freedom of expression but they do produce results that is the new status-quo.
Curiosity, creativity and your inner-child all hate the status quo. The part of the brain that needs to instragram a dead rat on the street or wants to replace a classroom’s bulbs with neon ones or that just babbles instead of using correct English is ever-present but ever often stifled and is ultimately ignored. Not doing the right or correct thing doesn’t have to mean acting out or getting in trouble but it does mean there has to be a willingness to challenge the norm and use personal expression whenever possible. Schooling, as it stands today, does inherently kill creativity but it doesn’t have to.
The system is broken and everyone is responsible. It is the onus of students to free their creativity and for teachers to find ways to let them. Parents must allow children to branch out and allow exploration in the many forms it comes in while employers must foster whatever creativity is left by the time of employment. Ken Robinson is correct but so is this: it IS possible to be focused, driven and career-minded WHILE remaining creative, fun and “free.” Don’t blame what you can’t change, so don’t try to. Just change what you can and do so with a mischievous grin….