Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Creativity in the Classroom

                I recently watched a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson in which he discusses the role of creativity in our schools today.  The basic premise of the talk was that our educational system today is built in a way that kills creativity.  This assessment of education is built on a few fundamental principles that are universal regardless of where you grew up or even when you grew up.  The main idea being that education was started during the industrial revolution in order to educate people for the jobs back then.  These jobs emphasized math and language while downplaying the arts, a structure that is seen today in all schools.  Just look at the standardized tests that students have to pass to graduate, they revolve around math, English and science.  Yet as Sir Robinson points out, these same qualities that were so vital during the industrial revolution, are not what is valued today in the workforce.  Simple routine tasks are being outsourced to other countries or replaced by computers or machines.  In today’s work place, it is the creative mind that is valued and paid, the exact opposite of what is valued in schools and universities. 

                So, do schools kill creativity?  The simple answer is yes, and they are highly effective at it.  However, the blame cannot be placed squarely on the teachers and administrators of the different districts.  If it was there fault, surely by dumb luck some school district would think outside of the box and emphasize the arts or do something different than all the other districts.  No, the true fault lies with the states and federal governments that create graduation requirements tied to disciplines that are no longer valued outside of academia.  I am not advocating that math, science and English are not valuable because they are incredibly.  Yet, how can a five year old be referred for special ed three months into kindergarten because they can’t read?  The reason, student’s today need to complete so much schooling and work by the time they arrive in high school to be prepared to take a test that will determine if they can graduate that will assess them on two things.  The some of the intelligence of a person is not two things, yet that is how we determine the quality of their education.

                How then can this be fixed?  Sir Robinson states it quiet simply by saying we need to educate the whole child.  To accomplish this we must remember that education is diverse, dynamic and distinct in all people.  What one student excels at, the next struggles with it more than anything and has learned throughout their schooling to hate.  As teachers we need to encourage the creativity in our students, by exposing them to different media and ideas.  I implore you to allow students the freedom to present information in different ways and to allow students to be themselves and use the technology that they have grown up with to be a part of their education.  By allowing the use of digital media, teachers are allowing those truly creative students the ability to express their knowledge in a way that is truly them and not in the mold of everyone else.  While crafting a good essay will get you far in school, how far will that take you in the workforce?

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