Handheld Learning Forum

For learners and educators => Teaching for mobile learners => Topic started by: Graham on April 24, 2008, 08:55:32 AM

Title: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: Graham on April 24, 2008, 08:55:32 AM
An oldie but a goodie (the story not the presenter!).

Here's a presentation from British author Sir Ken Robinson an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources.

From his wikipedia entry:

He has worked with national governments in Europe and Asia, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, national and state education systems, non-profit corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. They include the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, the Royal Ballet, the Hong Academy for Performing Arts, the European Commission, UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the J Paul Getty Trust and the Education Commission of the States. From 1989 - 2001, he was Professor of Arts Education at the University of Warwick, one of the five leading research universities in the UK.

In this presentation from the TED 2006 event he pose's the question of whether schools kill creativity in their learners.


An interview with Sir Ken by pupils from schools in Liverpool for Radiowaves 2008 can be found at:

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: thornuk on June 02, 2008, 10:35:20 AM
What an amazing video !  And insightive thoughts !  (One to show colleagues on a training day ?)

When I stated teaching, in the mid 1960s, there was no National Curriculum, no League Tables, no SATs, and virtually no accountability.  This allowed poor teachers to continue unchecked (except by their head of department / SLT), but it also allowed good teachers (the majority) unfettered use of their imagination in educating their pupils.  It's what we came into the job to do.  We did not have to teach to the tests, in order to climb up or maintain our position in some button-counter's statistical hierarchy.

Certainly teachers should be accountable.  In the critical analysis we are accountable to our pupils and their future ( - did we do the best for them ?  Will society be a better place because we were involved in their learning ? Did we make a [positive] difference ?).

Most of the colleagues I have known in the past 41 years have been intelligent, creative people, whose enthusiasm and passion for education has been deep.  Frequently, I have seen that passion stifled by constraints imposed from beyond the school gates (mostly political).  I can't see that changing much in the next 50 years. A generation of conditioning will, by now, have entrenched habits.

Sir Ken's comments are absolutely spot on,  but, for the attitudinal changes he promotes to work on a daily basis in schools now, it will require equally imaginative leaders who can break out of their own constrained thinking.  Now that the accountancy  parameters [of leagues tables, SATs, Value Added, etc.] have been let out of Pandora's box, and imposed on schools, they will be difficult to put back.  Any new system will have to include some measuring system so as to demonstrate that *not* teaching to the test, and *not* being constrained to an externally imposed curriculum produces a better outcome and a better future.

Perhaps through the relatively recent recognition of multiple intelligences, and the opportunities for 24/7 learning, such as those offered through hand held "devices", we may be able to begin address this.

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: epokh on June 02, 2008, 03:13:51 PM
When I look back my instruction I can only say it's sadly true.
Yes and changing the teaching system is a titanic opera .....

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: thornuk on June 02, 2008, 07:50:59 PM
Well chosen word, "Titanic"? 

...with the education system driven at speed through trouble strewn waters, chasing deadlines and inadequately considered targets, with  only a misty visibility of the possible outcomes ?

I hope, for all our futures, not so !  That "we" can steer clear of the dangers, or minimise the damage perhaps already caused.

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: Mark van 't Hooft on June 03, 2008, 04:48:29 AM
Interesting video. Important point to mention here is the wording of the question: "Do schools kill creativity? The crucial factor here is how we define the word "school" in this question. In my opinion, it is the institution of schools that does most of the killing, not necessarily the people in it (although some do). I've worked (and still do) with some excellent teachers and administrators, who are often limited in what they can do with and for students because of politicians, funding, and above all, standardized testing. It's not that they don't want children to be creativity, inquisitive, etc., it's that often their hands are tied (although the really good teachers and administrators find ways around this).

Educational systems are a reflection of the society that builds them, and I don't like what I'm seeing in a lot of places right now ...

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: thornuk on June 03, 2008, 08:15:41 PM
I quite agree with Mark's points (similar in some ways to mine ;-) ).

I also agree that really good teachers find ways round the constraints. The problem is maintaining that circumvention day after day, year after year, and retaining the required resilience and enthusiasm for the benefit of the pupils we are helping develop.  This is even more difficult when "the goal posts" are moved, as new strategies have to be adopted, and that only after the new requirements are assimilated.

But at least we can keep trying.

Sometimes the best way forward is a different "forward" to everyone else.

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: Michael Wilkinson on June 18, 2008, 10:11:15 AM
This topic is one which has interested me for some time, not just about schools killing creativity but also the desire to learn!
So...were born into the big wide world and instantly start to learn (having already been learning prior to birth!!!). We make sense of the world around us through every sense we have, learning to learn more effectively, learning how to communicate through language aquisition (complex enough!) and ultimately to participate in society etc. etc. etc.
So this suggests an inate desirte and ability to learn. So why is it we put strutures in place which take away these traits once children reach school. One for the socail anthropologists / pscyologists I think!!!

Michael Wilkinson

Title: Re: Do schools kill creativity?
Post by: Carl Faulkner on October 07, 2008, 08:22:53 PM
Before we all get too carried away with our Schools killing creativity, and beat them with another stick there are two points I'd like the 'handheld' community to reflect on. AS Mark says above the system of Schooling- perhaps best represented in SATs (with the almost comedy marking, administration and £100 million cost) show how teachers can, as Karl Marx said "school children down to size". Secondly though without the superhuman efforts put in by thousands of teachers and support staff, especially in early years settings, to enthuse, motivate and stimulate children, including hundreds coming from deprived areas our children would not stand a chance. Creativity is what lets them thrive and excel at School. Lots of children do.

And after thinking for a while about the above perhaps we should all review the number of exciting, innovative and creative projects we have all started and then walked away from...and they withered and died. I know I am guilty as job changes pulled me away fro m things I had started, but not built in the sustainability required.

Whats great about HHL is speaking with people who have been creative, helped children to be creative and inspire me to be creative. Whats depressing is seeing people chasing the 'next thing' and not following through on the last one.

Perhaps the most creative teachers I know are the ones who create the enthusiasm to deal with the Government barrage of changes and stay fresh for our children.