Do schools kill creativity?

Ken Robinson Ted Talk "How schools kill creativity"

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

If you haven't seen this video by Ken Robinson, it is great food for thought so check it out. Sir Kenneth Robinson is an English author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies.

There are two main themes in the talk. First, we're all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them. Second, it is increasingly urgent to cultivate these capacities - for personal, economic and cultural reasons - and to rethink the dominant approaches to education.

What are some ways schools might curb our curiosity and creativity?

1. They are industrialized

Standardized testing is, in a way, the grand example of the industrial method of education. It's not there to identify what individuals can do. It's there to look at things to which they conform. This is toxic for students. Like Robinson says, there isn't a kid in America who "gets out of bed in the morning wondering what they can do to raise their state's reading standards."

2. They create a hierarchy of subjects

Robinson says that we privilege some subjects like math over others such as dance and in doing so stifles creativity.

"At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts," he says. "There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics," Robinson says. "Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting? Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up."

3. Classes are rigidly timed

"If you live in a world where every lesson is 40 minutes, you immediately interrupt the flow of creativity," Robinson says.