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Did school squash your creativity?

Could your education have affected your creativity?

Do you feel uncreative? Are you scared to do anything creative without someone giving you exact, step by step directions? Are you  scared to mess up?

It may help you to go back in time to remember what  your education was like? Do you think it may have had anything to do with your inability to  be creative?

There is a wildly popular TED talk (watched by close to 11 million people so far) by Sir Ken Robinson titled Do schools kill creativity . He also has a book called “Out of Our Minds”  which most closely relates to his TED talk.

There must be a reason that that talk has been viewed so many times and his book is so popular. It obviously has struck a chord in millions of people.

His premise: (in a nutshell) Most schools ruin kids creativity

How is it that schools are set up to kill creativity

A hundred years ago or so our society was an agricultural one. There was not much education available as all hands were needed in the fields just to survive. Even young children.

Then came the industrial revolution. Young children were used in the factories as well and still didn’t get the education they needed. School was for the elites.

It wasn’t until child labor became outlawed that public education was developed..

However, it was developed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution. These young children that were now going to be allowed to go to school as opposed to work needed to be prepared to work as they grew up, mostly in factories.

Public education was developed around the principals needed for such work.

  • Linearity
  • Conformity
  • Standardization

Sounds familiar?

And so public education became

  • Like factories with set boundaries
  • Set hours of operation with set rules of conduct
  • Few opportunities for choice
  • Tansitions that start and end with buzzers
  • An obsession with academic ability
  • A preoccupation with standardized testing

Sounding even more familiar?

What really IS was wrong with those principles?

In a nutshell, they forget to take the kids into account. To see children as people and not robots.

Today we realize that education needs to produce thoughtful, creative, self confident people who can analyze information and generate new ideas on their own…

Nobody seemed to know this back then which is  why Sir Ken Robinson said that…

“Many people succeed only after they have recovered from their education”

How sad that you couldn't use your creativity in your education and that it's only after you're done with it that you can start tapping into your creative potential.

If you had strong academic abilities you probably never got to see if you had any creative ability. If you had a lower academic ability then you were probably beaten down for this without ever getting credit for your other dormant creative abilities.

Academic activity is NOT the determination of intelligence but, you would never have known that in school right?.

Your needs were overlooked in favor of political agendas, building codes, testing regimens, state standards other words...perfect kids.

As a real concrete example of how this type of thinking manifests itself we can look at the very beginning of schooling in the preschool, kindergarten years.

It starts with kindergarten arts and crafts

There is not much book learning in early years and as a result young childerns' early school years are filled with lots of arts and crafts projects.

In creating these crafts there is  little creativity or thought allowed …Instead there are…

  • Teacher prepared models of the craft
  • Exact materials needed for the projects
  • Exact directions to reproduce 25 replicas of the teachers craft

This type of crafts undermines self esteem, suppresses self expression and creativity and does not allow for any individual thinking or planning. (for more on this see my kids art blog Edu Art 4 Kids)

This is just the beginning of what goes on in schools starting in the early years which should help you begin to understand why you feel so uncreative.

Creativity starts getting squashed  in preschool without ever allowing it to blossom throughout your school years.

So how in heavens name would you have EVER even known that you actually have natural creative potential. (unless you were one of the lucky ones who had a creative home environment)

This post is not a full treatise in any way on the ills of education and creativity. It's also not about telling how to reawaken your dormant creativity, that's what this blog is for.

It is however, about hearing from you about this topic.

Does this all ring true to you? Are the pieces starting to fall into place?

What was your experience with school and creativity?

I’d love to start a discussion and hear more about your experiences it in the comments below..

Leave a Comment:

Mo Morgan says October 21, 2016

School successfully deprived me of 50 years of fulfilment. I was told I was rubbish and marked down accordingly – so I hated art because it brought my grades down and because I like to succeed.

Fast forward to January 2016 when at the age of 67 I started to journal with a bit of doodling , then saw an art class online and decided to jump right in. I can honestly say my life has changed. I’m more relaxed , I sleep better and I don’t spend my evenings watching junk TV.

I have learnt so much this last nine months and love some of my work enough to have it framed on my wall. I’m finding styles that I enjoy more than others and learning some quite advanced sketching. In between if I’m tired or don’t have much time I can happily throw some paint on a page , make a quirky face or just scribble.

I’m thankful I’ve found that I actually am not rubbish but wonder where my art would be today had it not been surpressed for so long !

    Faigie says October 27, 2016

    How wonderful!! I’m going to quote you if you don’t mind because what you say is exactly what I try to teach

stacie says October 21, 2016

Hi this post is so accurate from my experience. I was recently playing with my niece and we started some colouring in. She became quite annoyed and upset that I had added pattern and pinks to the picture of the sea, asking why I had coloured the water in wrong.. I simply answered there are no rules in colouring in.

    Faigie says October 27, 2016

    Its true Stacie because all many teachers care about is doing it “right” and they give that over to the kids.

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