Sunday, December 15, 2013

TEDTalks: Response to Ken Robinson's "How Schools Kill Creativity"

In an entertaining and profound TEDTalk, Sir Ken Robinson discusses how our schools are killing creativity within children.

Why this TEDTALK is awesome?

1) He's a knight! I think. . .  I mean, why else would he have a "Sir" in front of his name?

He is! He was knighted in 2003 for his services in the field of education, according to his TEDTalk profile. Nice!

2) And he's British! The amount of charm that oozes into my ears each time a Brit opens his or her mouth makes me want to swoon each. and. every. time. Add to that a sense of humor and an important discussion on educating students and I'm paying attention.
          - He makes a joke about Shakespeare being in an English class as a child. The video is worth
            watching for that alone!

3) Lastly, Sir Robbie (may I call you Sir Robbie) makes some really interesting statements that I think all educators should hear, ponder on, and decide what their next steps should be.

Sir Ken Robinson essentially argues that children are educated out of their creativity. What this means is that throughout their educational careers, they are made very much aware of what skills and fields of knowledge are most valuable. Sir Robinson also says that perhaps the purpose of education seems to be to produce university professors and when one thinks of what the most important subjects in all schools are--English, Math, Science, and History--he seems to have a point. Additionally, the subjects that are seen most useful are those that will allow students to find "work" in the future. It's the reason that universities are teeming with business majors, while visual art programs are being cut or down-sized. This happens after years of talented, intelligent, and creative people believing that they are not so because everything they were ever good at was never valued or was even stigmatized.

The statements that stood out most starkly to me as a future educator is the fact that we have molded students into being positively terrified of being wrong. Mistakes have become the worst thing that a person can make. Young children are not initially afraid of making mistakes; "If they don't know, they'll have a go." They're not frightened of being wrong. However, an education system that penalizes harshly for mistakes has succeeded in educating people out of their creative capacities.

If we believe, as Sir Ken Robinson does, that "creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status," what can we do to change the way things are? Do we start grading for effort? Do we incorporate more creative tasks into our units? I believe that the root of the answer lays within creating a different classroom and school culture. From the very first day of school, students should be re-acclimated to a new way of learning. One that is exploratory in nature and based on inquiry. In this way, students can begin to re-discover their creative natures and we can lessen the stigma of making mistakes. By creating comfortable, caring classrooms where students can be at ease to make mistakes, we can guide them down the path to creative discovery.

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