I said I was going to talk about this so hear we go. I recently came across this article by Will Richardson about how schools are killing the creativity of kids. Basically, he talks about how schools
A study released yesterday of about 350 districts across the country showed that 44% of them were reducing time on art, music, health and physical education. Instead, we’re getting more and more focused on reading and math where the standardized test scores really matter, a 31% decrease overall in subjects that aren’t tested.
This is not a surprise. The arts are seen as “extra” or a “special” and not as a core part of the curriculum in most schools. With the emphasis on reading, writing, and math on standardized tests, it is not a surprise that most teachers and schools focus on that. It is quantifiable data. Politicians like it. Parents like it. Businesses like it. People understand the difference between a 95% and a 75%. This is the main reason why creativity and the arts are not emphasized. You can’t measure it. You don’t know if it is good by looking at it or listening to it. It requires a part of your brain that can’t put things into neat little categories to say, “Yes, the arts and being creative is a good thing”. Unfortunately, people don’t like to hear that. It is vague and unquantifiable.
So, why is creativity good. Richardson also points to an excellent speech given by Sir Ken Robinson that is well worth spending 15 minutes to watch. I’ll be paraphrasing him in the next couple lines but he argues that creativity is as important as literacy, but creativity requires that you make mistakes. It is not as black and white as math or reading. The great thing about students is that they are willing to take a chance and not be frightened by making mistake, but our school systems have put stigmatized mistakes. (I think making mistakes is one of the few ways we all learn.) Kids have become afraid. In turn, if they are not prepared to be wrong, then they will not come up with something original. It is that simple. Through education, kids grow out of creativity because it is looked down upon since it has no wrong and right answer. Robinson goes on to say that many highly talented and creative people think they are not, because it was not valued in school. That is truly sad.
I hope some day the schools wake up, but we need to get ourselves out of this standardized test rut and focus on creativity. We are going to need creative thinkers in the coming years and decades, but if we contine to focus on wrong and right, we are going to have a bunch of children automatons who just continue to do what the people before them did instead of thinking of news ways to do things. That is how we move ahead as a culture. We move ahead because someone came up with a new way of doing something or thinking about a problem in a different way. It doesn’t happen because you fill out the right bubbles on a test booklet.