Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

If you have 20 minutes, and you think creativity is lacking in school, watch this talk by creativity expert, Sir Ken Robinson as he makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.

From one of my favorite websites,


Cerebration said...

Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. It's a message with deep resonance. Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? "Everyone should watch this."

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.
"Ken's vision and expertise is sought by public and commercial organizations throughout the world."
BBC Radio 4

Ella Smith said...

I do feel that many teachers do try to encourage the students today with projects to be creative but we still have to continue to make improvements in this area as teachers.

Cerebration said...

I think though, Ella, he was speaking to something much deeper. We are not protecting children's gifts and talents. We don't embrace kinesthetic learners, we don't teach creativity and expression - through dance, arts, movement and music - those things are always treated as "extras" - when for many these are the core of their being and the individual way they take in information. We tend to squash it - and force kids to spend basically 13 years sitting - listening - and then doing pen and pencil work at home to reinforce what they "heard" at school (if they're lucky enough to have a teacher who gives enthusiastic lectures.) Boys especially do not have the DNA required to endure such punishment.

Here's one small example. An automotive teacher at a vo-tech high school in Gwinnett told me how he taught Algebra by making the students solve hands-on engine-related problems. They were all in shock when they learned that they had just employed Algebraic principles to think through and solve a problem. They all swore they didn't understand Algebra in Algebra "class."

Personally, I can only remember the capitals or the books of the Bible due to the songs I learned about them. Or haven't you ever met a struggling student who is a brilliant artist or song-writer?

So many of us are square pegs and don't fit in the round holes that deliver education. Art and creativity shouldn't be just occasional projects - they should be fully integrated into the delivery of information and the experience called learning.

Cerebration said...

From the Blue Ribbon Schools Ceremony report - 2003:

Individualized attention, extra time on task, and focused instruction are all hallmarks of Blue Ribbon Schools. Several Blue Ribbon elementary schools are guided by ideas of arts-based education and multiple intelligences. Both give students different ways to learn and present academic material.

Lefty said...

I agree with your perspective, Cere. It may be better said that public schools only approach teaching for one kind of learner --the verbally-oriented listener. I think they attempt to use other visual or kinesthetic methods. But when it gets down to dollars and cents and time, the most efficient way to educate is the teacher standing in front of a class and lecturing. This doesn't often work well for many boys who learn with their hands and eyes.

Of course, if class sizes were much smaller, the teacher would have time to spend with different style learners and ensure that all students are "getting" the material.

Cerebration said...

Yes, Lefty - and if they would truly invest in a respectable vocational/tech high school (as well as the High School of the Arts) - instead of dismantling the meager program we had at HSTN and telling Cross Keys they would be delivering all of the equipment one of these days.

Ella Smith said...

But, things have changed a great deal in education. It is not acceptable to stand and lecture anymore as a teacher. There must be student interacting. Data shows that students do not learn best from teachers who lecture. They learn best by involvement and teaching others. We do so much inter-disciple teaching now and cross-discipline teaching. Of course I do teach currently at a Preforming Arts and Science and Math Magnet and we do so much hand-on learning. Students spend more time many days out of their desks as they spend in their desks. Students do not just sit and listen anymore. This is not an affective way to teach.