How schools crush creativity

Schools often promote ideals of standardized knowledge and conformity to norms, which do not necessarily serve students well for the lives ahead of them. As Sir Ken Robinson discusses in the recent issue of Ted Weekends, it breaks down to two issues:

“First, we’re all born with deep natural capacities for creativity and systems of mass education tend to suppress them.imgres-3

“Second, it is increasingly urgent to cultivate these capacities — for personal, economic and cultural reasons — and to rethink the dominant approaches to education to make sure that we do. One reason the talk has traveled so far is that these themes resonate so deeply with people at a personal level. I hear constantly from people around the world who feel marginalized by their own education, who want to thank me for helping them to understand why that may be and that they’re not alone. In the talk, I mentioned a book I was writing about the need to find our true talents and how often people are pushed away from them. The responses I get show that this is a common experience that’s deeply felt and ultimately resented. (Incidentally, I said in the talk that the book is calledEpiphany. I later changed the title to The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. It was too late to change the reference in the talk, which has since done wonders to promote sales of books called Epiphany… )

“A second reason for the impact of the talk is that people and organizations everywhere can see that current systems of education are failing to meet the challenges we now all face and they’re working furiously to create alternatives. In many countries, they’re doing this in the face of national policies and cultural attitudes that seem locked in past. The dominant systems of education are based on three principles — or assumptions at least — that are exactly opposite to how human lives are actually lived. Apart from that, they’re fine. First, they promote standardization and a narrow view of intelligence when human talents are diverse and personal. Second, they promote compliance when cultural progress and achievement depend on the cultivation of imagination and creativity. Third, they are linear and rigid when the course of each human life, including yours, is organic and largely unpredictable. As the rate of change continues to accelerate, building new forms of education on these alternative principles is not a romantic whimsy: it’s essential to personal fulfillment and to the sustainability of the world we are now creating.”


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