Do Schools Kill Creativity?

6 June 2016

When we were children, the world around us was derived by curiosity and exploration. By learning, we found satisfaction in our desires that no other activity could fulfill. Our imaginations were the basis of our childhood, allowing us to play, do schoolwork, build friendships, learn to do tasks, solve problems and eventually allowed us to see things from different perspectives. Now, as functioning adults, we look at children with an admiration for their ability to use their minds in such a manner.

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Why must we look up to them for it? Is it because we have forgotten how to use our creative minds? Why is it that we must admire them, rather than join them in creative thinking? Sir Ken Robinson explains that rather than promoting creativity, schools kill it so that it is almost entirely gone by the time we become adults. In his TED argument presented in 2006, Robinson argues that “Creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” He uses argumentative techniques throughout his presentation to create a strong base and convincing plea. Former professor at the University of Warwick in the UK, now a professor emeritus, Sir Ken Robinson, PhD “…is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business…

In 2011 he was listed as ‘one of the world’s elite thinkers on creativity and innovation’ by Fast Company magazine, and was ranked among the Thinkers50 list of the world’s top business thought leaders.” (Robinson) During his TED speech, Robinson expresses that children are born without the fear of being wrong. He discusses that everyone is born creative, but schools educated children out of their creative capacities. He argues that public schools around the world emphasize on forming left-brained students in order to meet the needs of industrialism. Students are rewarded for academic talents, but rarely for talents in areas such as music and the arts. He explains the hierarchy of subjects in education, beginning at the top with mathematics and languages, followed by humanities and at the bottom are the arts.

Sir Robinson desires to incorporate creativity into today’s education. Robinson immediately captures the attention of the audience by discussing the general attitude towards educators in a humorous manner. He explains that all people have an interest in education, it goes deep with people the same way religion and money does. By following this with the idea that education takes society into the future, he states that the children entering school in 2006 will not be retired until 2065. He explains that “nobody has a clue… what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we’re supposed to be educating children for it.

So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary,” which led into the argument that “kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.” Not only did he capture the attention of the audience with his comedic strategy but Robinson was able to keep the attention of the audience by using bold statements that made the audience ponder and develop a curiosity towards his topic.

Robinson did not use any visual media such as slideshows or images, but his oral techniques were impeccable. He used humor often, which created a memorable piece and made the audience feel more comfortable. Robinson also included light hearted stories in order to create a connection with the audience and related all of these stories to his topic extremely efficiently. By giving the audience the leeway to laugh and joke, he allows the audience to interact. These are all a crucial element of oral arguments (Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters 346). Robinson uses repetition and signposts simultaneously and effectively. Over the duration of his presentation, Robinson would begin a point by telling the audience a brief story from his own life and experience, following it with a strong point in relation to his argument, soon going into a deeper explanation of his point. This cycle repeated for the duration of his entire presentation.

For example, Robinson told a story about his family’s move from Stratford to Los Angeles. This story included personal information about his own life, but was in relation to his argument when he said “Something strikes you when you move to America and when you travel the world: every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects.” This statement was a transition into his discussion of hierarchy in not only subjects, but also within the arts and it led him into the discussion of children being trained to only use the left side of their brain. He would then lead into a different story and repeat. Robinson leads into his closing statement by revealing his solutions to the issue of killing creativity in schools.

This leads to describing that the gift of imagination must be used wisely. Not only should people appreciate the beauty of a child’s creative mind, but to educate them for a future that they will be in control of and make something of. This makes the audience realize that today’s children will be the leaders of our future, and nourishing their minds will lead to a successful adulthood. This makes the audience want to take action and apply the given strategies to their own life. By previously providing solutions to the issue and using a strong ending, the audience is motivated to fix this issue. As a person going into the field of education, this topic struck me with a lot of interest. When Robinson discussed the way we are conditioned to be afraid of being wrong, I realized that he was completely correct.

There are countless times where I have found myself not questioning anything during a math lesson in fear of sounding stupid in front of my peers, rather I’d wait until my question was hopefully answered, and if it was not I would find myself even more confused. Also, as Robinson says, society does emphasize on academic success and seems to forget about things such as the arts. Although it would help if schools rewarded creative thinking, it cannot end at the school level. Rewards for creative thinking must be incorporated into all parts of society.

As children, the power of curiosity and exploration controlled our lives. The emphasis on academic success and ignoring success in the arts turns open minded thinkers such as children into left brained adults. Robinson’s TED talk, Do Schools Kill Creativity? emphasizes on this with a use of argumentative techniques and structure, which assist in making his presentation strong and convincing along with memorable and distinguishable.

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