education a creativity killer?


Creativity is defined by Ken Robinson as “original ideas that add value”. In this talk on education he explains how today’s education system kills creativity and makes some very interesting points. It’s from 2006, so it’s an oldie, but i had intended to blog about this general area today when i discovered this talk and thought it pretty much nailed all of the points i was going to talk about and more…

Children are not afraid to have a go at anything, they have no fear according to Robinson. By the time they become adults, the fear of being wrong has taken over and that risk taking attitude is dead or at the very least suppressed in most of us.

He quotes Picasso and says that all children are born artists, but the problem is trying to remain an artist as we grow up. So he’s saying that creativity is natural and embedded in every one of us but as we grow older we also grow out of creativity thanks largely to the way we’re educated.

He questions the goals of modern day education… if everyone did as they were told and studied hard and got good grades etc… the natural progression in our own system would be leaving cert > degree > masters > phd and that person would end up being a professor because they can’t go any higher…

He says that professors tend to view their body as transportation for their heads and suggests that whilst they may be academically gifted, they’re intelligent because they’re at the top of the education ladder which itself has been created by other professors. So traditional intelligence and our views on it are killing creativity… we’re pursuing subjects that potentially get us job titles as opposed to subjects that we’re good at.

We’re not being encouraged to pursue activities and subjects we like, instead we’re being handed core subjects which the education system have deemed to be important… and they may be important, but they may also not bring out the best in people… there is more to intelligence than getting degrees and grades according to Robinson and that’s coming from a guy who has them all so he has earned the right to say that.

Anyway, i thought it was interesting. As you’ll know i’ve been talking a lot recently about creativity and how college is ‘getting in the way’ of stuff that i deem to be more useful and interesting like iPhone development. I’m convinced a lot of time spent in education is time wasted because we have nothing to show for it. Creativity and intelligence shouldn’t be measured sitting exams and answering questions. It should be measured in output and the value of that output in the real world.

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