Are schools educating our children out of their creativity?

We may differ in parenting styles and philosophies but one thing holds true for all parents:  we want our children to be the best that they can be.  For many,  this is achieved by investing in education – sending them to the best schools that money can buy, hiring private tutors etc.

So why is it that more and more people feel that the education system is in crisis?  I’ve talked with HR practitioners who decry the dearth of talent being churned out by the so-called top universities. I’m meeting more and more people (some of whom are educators) who have decided to homeschool their children because they strongly feel that the traditional schools are stifling their creativity and taking the fun out of learning.

Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative said it best during a June 2006 lecture at TEDtalks.  If you are a parent or an educator,  stop whatever you’re doing and watch this video:

Key takeaways:

  • “They’re [children] not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say being wrong is the same thing as being creative. What we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you never come up with anything original. And by the time most children get to be adults most children have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong”
  • We stigmatize mistakes.
  • Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.
  • The education systems around the world are educating people out of their creative capacities… “Truthfully what happens is, as children grow up we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.”
  • “the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.”
  • The education system needs to be rethought and reengineered to help cultivate our children’s whole being (not just specific parts) to enable them to make something of their future.

The full transcript is available here.

Michael Wesch and the students of the Introduction to Cultural Anthropology class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University made a very thought-provoking video spelling out the results of a survey on what it means to be a student in North America today.

Sigh.   This certainly isn’t making our school hunting any easier.


Motherhood has a very humanizing effect. Everything gets reduced to essentials. ~Meryl Streep

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3 Responses

  1. Hey there, as a teacher I see this crisis first hand. I’ve taught in schools where ever the teachers seem sucked dry at the end of the day. Luckily, the school I teach at now encourages and fosters creativity in every subject area(yes, math too!). Homeschooling has a lot of positive points, but as parents, we need to let go and allow them to learn on their own terms. I’m a product of homeschooling (last 2 years of HS), and I value those years. But there is value in the social interaction (no matter how “traditional” a setting) I received in a 40 kid class.

  2. My wife and I have been homeschooling our daughters fo rthe last four+ years. Their minds are so aware and informed. One of my favorite quotes comes from Margaret Mead, “My grandmother wanted me to get an education, so she took me out of school”.
    As for my girls social skills, they interact with people of all ages and have no problem talking with adults or playing with kids of all ages. We meet with other homeschoolers a couple of times a week.

  3. […] Related post: Are Schools Educating Our Children Out of Their Creativity? […]

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