How Schools are Killing Creativity

I worried my teachers a little while I was growing up. I was a space cadet and a wallflower, content to spend all of class-time doodling and swatting away any attempts to engage my attention. I didn’t like talking to the other children, and I spent the entirety of group projects trying to convince my group members to make clay animations with me. My only saving grace was that my teachers recognized that I was more of a “creative” learner, and were willing to jump through hoops to make sure that I didn’t fall through the cracks.

Things got harder in high school. I went to a competitive public school geared towards math/science, and I disengaged immediately. I was terrible at rapidly synthesizing huge quantities of information and spitting it back out, and was frustrated by the lack of creativity in my science and math classes. I don’t want to vilify the education system or my teachers, but where do creativity and innovation fit in as we are acquiring knowledge and specialized skills? How do we reconcile the need to bestow knowledge while also making sure that there is room for critical thinking, creativity, and personal growth? It is important that children meet standards at a “normal” developmental rate, but how do we challenge them to think outside of the box, engage deeply and personally with the material, and have the courage to be wrong?

Creativity is crucial to the learning process, as is trial and error. Do you think the current education system rewards creativity? Or does it reward children who can learn in specific ways and penalize those who cannot? I’m not entirely sure myself what my opinion on this is, but let’s kick off the conversation.

Here’s some food for thought:

Here’s a cartoon adaptation:!

4 thoughts on “How Schools are Killing Creativity

  1. Arvia, I saw a great talk about this a couple of weeks ago. Well, sort of about this…. It was on using humor in the classroom and the speaker was talking about how taking humor out of the classroom was, essentially, killing creativity. And that this is basically what our educational system does in its current format. Interesting stuff.


  2. I believe that schools are killing creativity, in class rooms everyone must learn a certain way to excel, those who cannot do not succeed. Or those who cannot are thought to have a “learning difference” as if its a disorder when at the end of the day everyone learns differently. People are so concerned with grades that they neglect how the student as an individual feels.


  3. I like Alaba’s point about how anyone who does not fit a certain mold of the “prototypical student” is considered to have a learning difference. Connecting back to the original point, perhaps these people simply learn differently- and would greatly benefit from more creative elements in the classroom. The issue is, each year schools feel more and more pressure from the government to meet standards (See the No Child Left Behind Act), and so now not only are we seeing the elimination of “creative activities” from the learning environment, but also the elimination of things like art class, gym class, recess, and music class. These things are fundamental in the development of a child in so many ways, and to eliminate them is to fail all of the children in our society.


  4. I agree that the current educational system is diminishing the importance of creativity, mostly as a result of standardization. Both students and teachers alike are given incentive to focus on hard facts, in an explicit manner, as they are easier to test for. Students are obviously benefited by succeeding on fact-based exams by being more competitive in college applications, and therefore stop striving to think more critically and creatively, while teachers are benefited by teaching students “for the test” as opposed to creating a more authentic, creative learning experience or curriculum, as student test scores are a major factor when considering and judging the quality of a teacher’s work. Education is at its best when it is individualized for maximum learning. In a system where good grades are what is most desired, as opposed to meaningful learning outcomes, who is really benefiting?


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