Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

My friend came across this and shared the link. It's from a TED talk featuring Sir Ken Robinson.



As a product of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools I can say that the answer as related to CMS is plainly, yes. For those who don't know, CMS is basically the educational and governmental equivalent of what British Leyland was to the automobile industry. A large, unwieldy, overly bureaucratic, top heavy organization that has lost sight of it's original goal.

CMS, as with most Western educational systems, focuses primarily on mathematics and language (in our case, English), then on science and social studies (though the latter is being forced closer to the fringe), and then, and only if there's time after all the standardized testing, physical education and the arts. In many cases the last two are seeing themselves axed in the name of saving money. Teachers are being fired while the top level officials who ran the ship so shoddily that it began to take on water in the first place keep their six-figure jobs.

According to these people sitting behind their desks in office buildings in Second Ward, Raleigh, and Washington, the education of the youth should be based solely on the student's ability to pass a standardized test. A menial, tedious selection of multi-choice questions answered on a sheet of paper with hundreds of tiny circles on it. This, to them, is education, and the aggregate performance of students on these tests determines how much money is allocated to each school for the following year. Bad performance - for some bizarre reason - equates to less money, and with the focus so heavily on math and language, the arts and physical education bare the brunt of the cuts.

Furthering out the arts and physical education is the somewhat recent idea of "workforce development", basically turning schools into an assembly line of workers for the already established business community. You basically go to school to learn how to become a good, productive worker. This rigid system stifles individual creativity because it's dead-set in the needs of the industrial economy. Yesterday's economy.

I'm not saying that it's all about more focus on the arts and physical education, it isn't. Not everyone's talent is playing the harp or keeping goal. One can be talented and creative with mathematics and languages, but it once again boils down to the standardized, rigid system employed by the higher-ups.

Also, I am not criticizing teachers. I'm a great admirer of teachers, they are among the most selfless people on the planet and often work for a pittance because they have a passion for helping young people. I am criticizing those in the higher positions, some of whom have never been teachers, who believe that test scores determine a person's worth. It's borderline criminal.

In my opinion education needs to be revolutionized to fit the 21st century rather than the 19th century. The world has changed dramatically, but the education system is stuck in the era of the steam engine.

Children should be taught to express themselves, and to learn by doing, rather than placed on an assembly line and have their failures punished in draconian ways.

Nike, of all things, makes sense with this ad:

1 comment:

jose_santana said...

OMG...thanks. I got a tear once I re-saw that video.
But truely, this is an issue that many ignore. Taking a test...yeah, like there exists no way to get around that. Using a method like stealing a test or maybe figuring out what they want and memorizing the info.
Seriously, I believe that this way leaves little chances for one be intellectually advanced.
I learned in an AP class many things and that teacher never once tried to focus us in the bubble and pass method.
Thanks again. ;)