Do Schools Kill Creativity – Sir Ken Robinson…!!!
Sir Kenneth Robinson is one of the most celebrated Creativity Experts in recent times. His hugely popular 2006 TEDTalk has touched millions of lives all around the world. In fact, it is a master class in public speaking. The way he injects humor in his presentation, to engage his spellbound audience and delivers a very important message in education, is astounding. We came across his talk around the same year that Aarohi was born (i.e. 2010). To be honest we were both amazed and horrified at the same time. We were amazed at how accurate his depiction of the education system was as compared to the system through which my wife, Snehal and I grew up and its effect on our day to day life. We were horrified with the idea of having Aarohi go through the same experience. It’s not that we were not aware of our predicament, it’s just that nobody laid it out in front of us quite like Sir Ken. Just like the way his talk touched a lot of people, it spoke directly to us and made us rethink about how we wanted to approach Aarohi’s education.
Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.
During his talk, Sir Ken points out that everybody is born with creativity. He says that all children are creative and gives us the first example of creativity in children with the story of a little girl who was busy drawing a picture of God. When asked, “But nobody knows what God looks like”, she responded by saying, “They will in a minute.” Once the audience’s laughter subsides and you actually sit and think about what might be going on in that little girl’s mind, you realize that kids are fearless and shamelessly claim to be correct all the time. It is us who teach them that they are wrong. He goes on to give another example of his own son in a Nativity play, where one of the kids improvised onstage my making up his own line when he forgot the script. Goes to show that kids will take a chance with something they don’t know about and make up things that make sense to them. So, even if they made a mistake, they came up with something original. Sad thing is that our education system stigmatizes mistakes and grows them out of their creativity.
Then Sir Ken addresses the education systems around the world, as having the same hierarchy of subjects. Mathematics and Languages, then Humanity and at the bottom are the Arts (Art and Music are higher than Dance). He questions the importance of Maths as opposed to Dance. It’s important to learn Maths, but then why is it not important to learn Dance? People should not be held up as the high watermark of human achievement just cause they are intellectuals and use their body as only a means to transport their head from one place to another. This led to the point that our whole education system is built upon the idea of Academic ability. The whole concept of Modern Schooling System was invented in the 19th Century to meet the needs of Industrialism. This leads to kids who spend the entire 1st quarter of their life studying so that they can grow up and get a job in the Industry. On the other hand, kids who find themselves not very good at Academics grow up feeling that they are inadequate, even if they are highly talented, brilliant and creative people.
Children stay away from doing things they like because they can’t get a job doing that.
At this point, Sir Ken goes on to explore how we can and must, immediately change the education system by giving us an example of world renowned Choreographer Gillian Lynne. She would’ve been diagnosed with a so-called learning disorder ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) as a child if her doctor hadn’t intervened and told her parents to instead take her to a Dance School. The schooling system needs to modify itself so as not to serve only the human brain, but the entire human body. It needs to include subjects that encourage the use of hands, legs, the spine and other body parts. We are happy to find out that in fact, our education system is slowly shifting the paradigm toward a revolution that encourages children to learn by engaging in activities as opposed to digging their head inside a book and getting all their knowledge from there.
As parents, we took this a step further. Not only do we teach Aarohi everything through one or the other activity, we took it upon ourselves to be the ones who deliver the education to her. As a result, we ended up with the decision of Homeschooling her. This decision was based on the belief that no one will care more about getting her the right education, the right way, than her own parents, the two of us. Although Academics is very important, we took the approach of teaching her everything by physically interacting with things. We will be detailing about each aspect of her homeschooling in upcoming articles. Take a look at the talk and enjoy. By the way, the presentation ends with a standing ovation: