Is the Modern Schooling System Killing Student’s Creativity?

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As the incredibly intelligent Sir Ken Robinson once stated, “Creativity is as important as literacy.” However, someone along the way, society as a whole has forgotten this assertion, completely discouraging creative children from pursuing creative careers. But beyond musicians, painters, and dancers, creativity is a beneficial skill to possess when working in any field. It can be certainly said that among Van Gogh, Einstein, Curie, and Di Vinci, the single most powerful skill they all utilized was creativity. The adoption of standardized testing and curriculum has greatly limited creative thinking, as it is no longer being promoted. In order to progress society, we must find a way to instill creative values rather than merely teaching our youth how to mindlessly solve integrals. 

Creativity Defined:
Sir Ken Robinson defines creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Notice that this definition does not bind creativity to artistic endeavors, but rather creates a broad application of being original in ideas and execution. It is important to understand and accept this broader definition, as it portrays the importance of creativity in all sectors of life. If creativity is an important part of decision-making, why have we continually ignored and stigmatized it in schooling?

An Exploration Into Sir Ken Robinson’s Revolutionary Claim:
As I mentioned in my introduction video, I first watched Sir Ken Robinson’s revolutionary Ted Talk while I was sitting in a stuffy English classroom, doodling in the margins of my copy of The Scarlet Letter. Ever since that moment, Robinson’s words have lived with me every day of my life, especially when I find myself facing a paralyzing moment of creative block. For Robinson, creativity is all about a willingness to be wrong and make mistakes, however, the education system treats being wrong as the worst thing possible. This punishment for being wrong takes away children’s desire to merely “give it a go,” therefore, limiting them from discovering their natural talents. Robinson also does a fabulous job of explaining how and why the education system has shifted away from inspiring creativity and towards mass-producing average workers. He explains how there has been great inflation of college degrees, meaning that mandatory schooling has shifted towards merely grooming children into having the perfect transcript and resume to get them into the school of their dreams. As a society, we must realize that a person’s measure of intelligence and success is so much more than an A in an AP class. Robinson understands that the future is vastly uncertain and problematic, meaning that teachers should be preparing their students to develop creative, imaginative, and innovative solutions to the problems of tomorrow. Limiting a child’s creativity in the classroom is no way to prepare for that.

Personal Anecdote:
Sir Ken Robinson defines creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Notice that this definition does not bind creativity to artistic endeavors, bAs I mentioned in my introduction video, I first watched Sir Ken Robinson’s revolutionary Ted Talk while I was sitting in a stuffy English classroom, doodling in the I have nearly a thousand stories I can share regarding ways in which I have felt creatively limited in school. From the expectation of taking AP classes to pressure to receive all As, I have continually had to place my creative nature to the wayside, ultimately leaving me rather unfulfilled as a student. This particular incident happened to me only a week ago: I was sitting in my school’s director and choreographer’s office working on a calculus worksheet in preparation for the upcoming AP exams during my study hall period. I was entirely bored out of my mind. I sat there looking at the blank sheet of paper with absolutely zero motivation to pick up my pencil and solve problem after problem. I was pulled out of my daze when my choreographer asked if I was busy, and if not, if I could help her choreograph a short little dance number. I shot up from my seat, excited to work on something creative. She handed me some sheet music and told me to get to work. It all came to me so naturally, and beyond that, I was having so much fun doing it. I finished the piece with time to spare, so I went back to that calculus worksheet and was able to complete it in no time. Some time to be creative was all I needed. Creativity is all anyone ever needs. Below, please enjoy a collection of photographs titled “Facing Creative Block.”

Proposed Solution:
While an entire education reform can seem rather daunting, and as a singular student the task appears practically impossible, small steps can be taken to at least prevent yourself from being bogged down by the modern schooling system’s limitations on creativity. In his argument “Against School,” John Taylor Gatto provides an optimistic outlook on the same issue that Robinson clearly outlined. Gatto believes that once you understand that schools are truly limiting their student’s full potential, especially creatively, you can easily avoid their tricks and traps, by encouraging children to “develop an inner life so that they’ll never be bored.” Essentially, Gatto believes that by inspiring students to question what they are being taught and explore deeper into complex subjects, their creativity will no longer be halted. The beauty of this solution, as Gatto himself notes, is its simplicity: “Let them manage themselves.”

The modern schooling system has limited the creativity of its students for far too long. It is time that as students we fight back against the limitations and stigmatism of being imaginative and creative. Be willing to make mistakes and have questions. Do not feel forced to pursue a life reflected on the standardized principles taught within the confines of a concrete block classroom. Please leave any comments or questions in the section below and remember: be daring, be passionate, be creative.

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  1. Hi Lily!
    I found your topic very interesting- and I remember watching that TedTalk a while back and it impacted my beliefs about the school system deeply. Finland’s education system is a great example of a solution- the curriculum there is much less standardized than in the U.S. and other countries. I also think paying teachers more is part of the solution. In Finland, being a teacher is regarded as a great job, and it is respected. Teachers really make the class and learning, so raising the bar in that way is something else to think about!

  2. Hey Lily! I completely agree that school systems and not allowing students to grow their creativity. I know that some schools in the US are trying to allow more freedom to have students explore their creativity, but the main curriculum for schools is to follow what is needed as a baseline, to go by the books. But I completely agree that creativity is extremely important in everyone’s lives, not just for artistic reasons but to allow people to have original values as Sir Ken Robinson said. Great presentation.

  3. Hi Lily! I really loved your project and reading your research. I agree that our current school system is limiting the creativity of students and I think inspiring them to question the system and what they’re being taught is a great start. I think spreading awareness on the situation is super important because if students are aware of the problem, then they can push themselves to break out of it and not fall into the trap of constant logic. I also agree with Zaara and her idea of paying teachers more. Teachers are not respected enough in American society, which is a major issue, since their job is so important. Again, amazing job and thank you for raising awareness on this topic!

  4. Hi Lily!
    I’m from an abnormal psych class, and I truly loved reading your page. I totally agree that the current school system is completely limiting students creativity, and I think that needs to be changed. I really like your solution to this issue, since its something each of us can individually do to help ‘fix’ this issue. Thank you so much for raising awareness in relation to schools and creativity. I also loved the images and media you added to your page, it really brought it all together.

  5. Wow, Lily! This is such an interesting project and overall topic. The stress of school and other activities can definitely be so draining that it prevents students from doing what they enjoy. Your response was a really great idea! I feel there is such a stigma surrounding pursuing art ad I’m glad you are raising awareness towards it. The push of the 9-5 idealogy can be so problematic, especially in youth, Great job!

  6. Your topic was very interesting as was your photos, I think school lacks sparking artistic creativity and artist like you. I also think there might be some bullying for artistically passionate people. This is a shame as some people don’t feel conformal enough to share their art. I think your boldness to post your art was very brave. I’ve always been self-conscious about sharing the art I have done. I like what you’re preaching and that you walk that talk.

  7. Hi Lily!
    This is such an important presentation and the points you mention never came to my attention before. Firstly, I found it really interesting when Sir Ken Robinson defined creativity as “the process of having original ideas that have value”, without the implication of a certain area. That one sentence altered how I perceive creativity. I agree when you say that teachers should be teaching us innovation and creativity, problems to real life solutions, as opposed to math that won’t serve us a purpose later on. Thank you for bring light to this subject! I really enjoyed your presentation.

  8. Hi Lily, I really enjoyed reading your project. Your points were very well articulated and your site was very easy and pleasing to look at! I feel like our modern society has created stricter policies into what they believe is ‘smart’ and what isn’t. If you succeed academically people will view you with more general respect, which I never fully understood. I feel as though we have to break the stigma within the idea that creativity isn’t one of the most difficult and important skill to have! I We need to implement more classes that allow students to use their creative side without being ashamed of it. Teaching young students that being interested in artistic careers shouldn’t be something they put aside to focus on school work for, I think they should have the choice to make this their school work. Great job on your site!

  9. I loved this topic! My school actually showed this tedtalk one time and it really did change my view!! I loved this project!

  10. Hey Lily!
    Your project interested me so much and I am so glad that I saw your page. I have honestly been feeling the same way you have described in your explanations and even though it is easier said than done, I am going to take this as a wake-up call to be more creative. I was blaming myself for my lack of interest and now I realized school plays a huge factor in my demeanor, not just myself. Your project was very well put together and you have your information coherently. Well done!

  11. Hey Lily!
    My name is Bri and I am in the abnormal psychology class. I really enjoyed your topic about whether or not the modern schooling system is killing student’s creativity? I also liked how you added a personal anecdote and how some of your pictures that you included were of yourself. This also allowed your project to become more personal and meaningful. Finally I also enjoyed how you included a ted talk in your project, I feel as though this allowed us to connect and engage in your project more. Overall I think you did a really good job.

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