Lindsey Claire Galt Dr. Lee March American Government October 3, 2012 Do Schools Kill Creativity? If you search almost anywhere on the internet about creativity and public schools you will run into a video by a man named Sir Ken Robinson. He emphasizes that schools kill creativity in every way. On the other hand, President Barack Obama disagrees whole heartedly. Both of these men agree that creativity is important to children and schools but they disagree on whether or not creativity is being implemented in schools.
Robinson stated in his lectured at TED 2006, “I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it” (Ken Robinson. TED2006). He goes to say that education is the same all around the world and everyone puts emphasis on the same subjects. “At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts” (Robinson). Schools are so focused on standardized test scores and core subjects that the arts are left behind.
There is also a common belief that as school budgets are cut the first things to go are the arts.
One thing many agree on is that creativity is a very important factor in a child life and must flourish for the child to become successful. Obama believes the opposite of what Ken Robinson believes is occurring, saying that schools are taking a great initiative to bring back creativity to our public schools. In a speech at Benjamin Banneker High School in 2011, President Obama told students, “You’ve got to wonder.
You’ve got to question. You’ve got to explore. And every once in a while, you need to color outside the lines” (Barack Obama. Back-to-School Speech”). Several states, have instated a “Creativity Index” which instead of just telling the state school’s standardized test scores will tell “how effective it is at “teaching, encouraging and fostering creativity in students”” (Philip Petrov. “Measuring Creativity in the Public Schools”). When discussing creativity in the public school system, one person’s opinion can drastically differ from another. Most can agree that creativity has been pushed aside in favor of the sciences and mathematics in the past. Two main opinions that ost people share are school kill creativity or creativity is beginning to blossom in public schools. Ken Robinson’s opinion is widely accepted and discussed. Some universities even use his video as a basis for a course. Robinson states that the purpose of public education is to “produce university professors” and as children get older schools focus more on one side of the brain, the left. He says that the whole reason for public education being created was to “meet the needs of industrialism”, now “the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance”.
The problem with this, according to Robison, is that because schools focus on core subjects, students that are very creative “think they’re not, because the thing that they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or actually stigmatized”. Also, over the years degrees have become less valuable. Where once a BA was required, now a MA is required and it becomes a lot harder to get a job. The difficulty of finding a job discourages students from achieving those degrees (Robinson. TED2006). A lot of people believe that school these days is strictly focused on standardized testing.
These tests are so standardized that it makes it hard for children that don’t fit the mold to pass. This causes schools to lose money for more creative endeavors and children to think that they are inadequate. Mark LeShay believes that schools are “systematically eliminating creativity, the very thinking that we now find ourselves in shortage of to solve healthcare issues and to reset global policy”. Businesses are working hard to hire and create employees that are creative while schools are teaching children the opposite.
Our country needs people to think outside the box but “we find people bred in a system that punishes mistakes. LeShay thinks that “our public education system is at the end of its life. ” (LeShay) When most children start of school in preschool and early elementary they are told to do nothing but be creative. Once they hit about third grade the standardized tests start to take over and creativity is suppressed to make room for all of the facts that children must memorize to pass the exams. There are negatives and positives about this.
The 2004 New York State Education Department’s policy brief stated that the positive effects of high stakes exams were that they “provide students with clear info about their own skills, motivate students to work harder in school, send clearer messages to students about what to study and help students associate ad align personal efforts with rewards”. The negative effects were that high stakes exams “frustrate students and discourage them from trying, make students more competitive, and cause students to devalue grades and assessments”.
These tests put a lot of pressure on the students as well as the teachers and they are so stressed out about making the scores that they need to keep their jobs and schools that other things like creativity and individualism are lost (New York State Education Department 9-12) The goals of education are controversial and not many people can agree on what they are. A commonly shared opinion of the “purpose of education is to prepare students for the “real world” to “succeed””. Children are constantly being prepared for the workforce and what will come later in life. Another goal of education is to teach students how to socialize and communicate” which will prepare them for adulthood. Dara Adib believes that if schools harm socialization they will harm “creativity and reasoning”. Adib thinks that “school instills fear, overwhelming students with the possibility of getting a bad grade. Unnecessary control, brainwashing, and discouragement harm the possibility of independent thought by teaching a mindset of conformity, measured through grades and tests” (Adib).
Adib states that the problem with education at this time is that “concepts are introduced, covered very quickly, and then left behind because it’s time to move on to another concept”. This causes students to not be able to retain large amounts of information because new things are constantly being added to the piles of information they must keep track of. The reason that so many people that become billionaires are drop outs it because they were not able to conform and had to let their creativity blossom.
Schools teach students how to conform and be like everyone else. “After children have attended school for a while, they become more cautious and less innovative . . . teachers, peers, and the educational system as a whole all diminish children’s urge to express their creative possibilities” (Dacey & Lennon). Some of the ways that it is believed that schools suppress creativity to the point of extinction are surveillance, evaluation, rewards, competition, over control, restricting choice, and most of all pressure.
Teachers must constantly hover over children to make sure that they are on task which causes them to be paranoid about whether they are doing what they are supposed to. Second, children are constantly evaluation on their progress. Grades are so important to children. Their parents want to know how they are doing in school and with quizzes, tests, projects, and papers constantly being assigned and graded children are too worried about how they will do to be proud of their accomplishments and show a more creative side. There are also rewards.
Parents and teachers use prizes to influence children to do what they are told so that just being creative for the sake of creativity is no longer valued. Over-control and restricting choices are also two big factors. Teachers have to give very specific instructions so that students will know exactly how to do something so that originality and the ability to think for themselves are lost. Lastly, there is so much pressure for children to do well that they lose the enjoyment of the activity. There are usually very high expectations for children.
They must always improve and are not allowed to take a break. The guidelines for schools are so strict that it is impossible for children to meet them and often they go beyond their “developmental capabilities” (Goleman, Kaufman, & Ray (61-62) One reason that people say schools need to add back creativity is that the U. S. Workforce is demanding creative workers. The Report: Ready to Innovate used polls taken from “155 school superintendents and 89 employers” to determine what demonstrates creativity and what the greatest indicator of creativity was.
There is a miscommunication between employers and schools on what constitutes as creativity. Both agree that “ability to identify new patterns of behavior or new combination of actions and integration of knowledge across different disciplines” are very high creativity indicators. Where they disagree is what the highest demonstration of creativity is. Businesses say that “problem-identification or articulation” is the best demonstrator of creativity while schools say that problem-solving shows the greatest amount of creativity.
Because of this disagreement “eighty-five percent of employers concerned with hiring creative people say they can’t find the applicants they seek”. The two groups of people also disagree about whether or not their workers/students meet all of the criteria or not. What they overwhelmingly do agree on is that “creativity is increasingly important in U. S. workplaces and that arts-training are crucial to developing creativity” (Lichtenberg, et al. 2-3). In 2010, The George Lucas Educational Foundation asked if school standards kill creativity.
Claus von Zastrow concluded that standards could support instead of suppress creativity. He says that standards create thoughts of uniformity causing people to shy away from them. Because when schools get low scores they get budget cuts schools have been forced to teach to test giving standards a bad rap. Despite this there are schools that make it a priority to help their students creativity flourish. A school in Ohio actually had students do creative projects based on state standards.
Some teachers are so afraid that they will not be able to finish the curriculum if they do not strictly adhere to the standards. Zastrow disagrees and says that projects and other creative activities can help the teacher meet their standards and students become more creative (Zastrow). An elementary school in Ohio put this into practice. The fifth graders of the National Inventers Hall of Fame School were given the task of finding out how to reduce sound in the library. They worked in groups, supported each other, wrote proposals, and designed ways to muffle sound.
Throughout the entire project the kids were able to show their creativity while working hard. They enjoyed themselves and were able to think like adults. At the end of the project the children had not only completed a project, but met all of the fifth-grade curriculum requirements. The children understood “sound waves to per-unit cost calculations to the art of persuasive writing” (Bronson & Merryman) While America is starting to work on creativity the focus is still on raising test scores in core subjects. Other countries have different approaches to their education systems.
China is coming up with different ways to assess students in a way that does not let schools be ranked by standardized test scores. Some of the stratagies include “granting more flexibility and autonomy to students and schools in deciding what to learn, more courses outside traditional disciplines, and a more authentic assessment and evaluation scheme. The United Kingdom is working to “build stronger links” with other countries and their education system. Singapore has launched a curriculum reform that “develops students into a community of active, creative learners with critical-thinking skills. South Korea has worked to foster “self-motivated capacity and implement(s) learner-oriented education that suits students’ capability, aptitude, and career-development needs” (Yong Zhao 13-14) Also in 2010, Newsweek did an article about the “Creativity Crisis”. Reporters Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman delved into the research about the decline in American creativity and how it could be fixed. The definition of creativity was different for almost everyone that was interviewed in the research. This made it very hard to come up with a concrete definition to compare to.
The accepted definition was “the production of something original and useful”. The research that Bronson and Merryman looked at way from a study by E. Paul Torrance. Torrance conducted tests on 400 children from Minneapolis. These children were then tracked for fifty years and every accomplishment was recorded. Since then Torrance’s tests have “become the gold standard in creativity assessment”. His creativity index predicted the outcomes of the children. Based on his research many states are now working on their own creativity indexes to figure out what levels their schools are at and how successful their children will be.
Other countries are taking great initiative to bring back creativity. Britain “revamped” its secondary-school curriculum to fit in with Torrance’s tests. Some even say that instead of just enhancing the arts, the arts should be added into to all the classes students will take (Bronson & Merryman). Massachusetts has become a leading force in the creativity movement. The Massachusetts Creativity Index is “based in part on the creative opportunities in each school as measured by the availability of classes and before-school and after-school programs . . . that provide creative opportunities for students including . . arts education, debate clubs, science fairs, theatre performances, concerts, filmmaking and independent research. ” The Legislation resisted combining creativity with the arts because they wanted creativity to be measured not only in the arts but in other courses. The indexes and efforts being made are just beginning to form but they are already getting a lot of attention from other states. This index is being implemented involuntarily unlike the index being created in California (Petrov). Two other states that are working hard to foster creativity in schools are California and Oklahoma.
The state legislature is working to create an Advisory committee on Creative and Innovative Education. The Senate Bill 789 is “similar to the one already signed by the Governor of Massachusetts” and will create an Index similar to Torrance’s to inspire creativity in their public schools. This bill would “require the Governor, Senate Committee on Rules, and Speaker of the Assembly to appoint 15 members who would be required to be experts in, or have experience in, the fields of education, public policy, artistic development, workforce development, or cultural development. These people would be spread throughout the state. This index being created by the California Legislature would give teachers and schools a way to rate their progress to better nurture creativity and innovation in their students. It also is a voluntary index. U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan believes that “The arts can no longer be treated as a frill…Arts education is essential to stimulating the creativity and innovation that will prove critical for young Americans competing in a global economy. Duncan has also stated that the Education Department will start conducting surveys of “school principals, music teachers, and visual arts specialists” which has not happened for ten years. He is working with Obama on this project (Eger). In his Back-To-School speech in 2011 President Barack Obama stated what he thought school was for. He believes that schools is for “discovering new passions, acquiring new skills” and preparing for future careers. Obama goes on to say that while in school it is important to study a wide variety of subjects to discover what people want to do later in life. One hour you can be an artist; the next, an author; the next, a scientist, or a historian, or a carpenter. ” The Presidents also admits that he was not always very good in school but after taking an ethics class in eighth grade he discovered he like it. Obama told the students that attended his speech that the country needed their creativity and that it was crucial to the success of the country (Obama) There are two main views on creativity in public schools. While the general consensus is that creativity is vital to a child’s development the disagreement is whether or not schools enhance or inhibit a child’s creativity.
One is that schools kill and suppress creativity. That side argues that standardized test and evaluations of students constantly put too much stress on teachers and students and creativity is left in the dust. They believe that education is about getting students ready for the “real world” and the constant pressure work will have on them. Children that do not fit into the general mold are discouraged from doing what they love and are good at. The workforce is constantly looking for higher degrees so a high school or college degree is no longer valued and those students are discouraged from even trying in school anymore.
Standardized tests are a large argument that this side makes. Standardized tests cause students to have to focus on memorizing so much material that they do not learn what is really important and cannot let their creativity shine. The children that are not good at tests start to think that they are bad at school and lose faith in the education system. This is a bad thing because the workforce is looking for more and more creative people these days. The goals of education have become blurry and old ideas are no longer valued or practiced.
This makes students hate school and think it is a bad thing because all of the so called “good goals of education” are no longer used and school is based almost solely on testing. The other side to creativity in schools is the group that agrees that in the past there have been problems but presently there are a lot of things being done to make creativity a large part of education again. Because the workforce is so demanding of creative workers, schools have started to make creativity a more important goal in the classroom.
Some schools are finding better ways to meet the entire curriculum that must be taught in a way that makes students be creative and think for themselves. A lot of states in the United States are implementing “Creativity Index’s” which are standards that show how well creativity is being taught and encouraged in schools. This is a good way to add back creativity to the system because it allows for the schools to keep having standards like they are used but are still able to incorporate creativity back into the system.
The United States is not the only country working to add back creativity. Countries all over Europe and Asia are finding ways to help their students become more creative and actually enjoy school. For a child to flourish in the workforce and in their own lives creativity must be present. Without creativity, everyone would be uniform and there would be no new ideas. If steps are not being taken to make creativity important to the education system our country and world will crumble.
No matter what any person’s opinion on whether or not creativity is killed or encouraged by schools, most people believe that education is very important to a child’s success in life and must be encouraged throughout their entire educational career. Works Cited Adib, Dara. “The Goals of Education” 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 20 Sept. 2012 http://www. ocf. berkeley. edu/~daradib/rants/education/ Bennett, Vicki, Kyou Han Koh and Alexander Repenning. “Cs Education Re-Kindles Creativity in Public Schools. ” Web. 20 Sept. 2012. http://scalablegamedesign. cs. colorado. edu/gamewiki/images/9/92/Sp134-bennett. df Bronson, Po and Merryman, Ashley. “The Creativity Crisis” The Daily Beast. Newsweek Mag. , 10 Jul. 2010. Web. 20 Sept. 2012. http://www. thedailybeast. com/newsweek/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis. html Eger, John. “Measuring Creativity in California and the Nation. ” Huff Post. The Huffington Post. , 14 Apr. 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2012 http://www. huffingtonpost. com/john-m-eger/measuring-creativity-in-c_b_848375. html Leshay, Marc. “Public Schools: A Systemic Race to the Bottom” PDF File. 20 Sept. 2012. http://www. csupomona. edu/~collins/journal/Public%20Schools%20A%20systemic%20race%20to%20the%20bottom. df Lichtenberg, James et al. “Ready to Innovate” The Conference Board. 2008. Web. 24 Sept. 2012 http://www. arts. texas. gov/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ready_to_innovate. pdf “The Impact of High-Stakes Exams on Students and Teachers”. Policy Brief. New York State Education Department. Aug. 2004. Web. 20 Sept. 2012 http://www. oms. nysed. gov/faru/TheImpactofHighStakesExams_files/The_Impact_of_High-Stakes_Exams. pdf Obama, Barack. “Third Annual Back to School Speech” Benjamin Banneker High School. Washington D. C. 28 Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2012 http://www. whitehouse. ov/photos-and-video/video/2011/09/28/president-obama-s-third-annual-back-school-speech#transcript Petrov, Philip. “Measuring Creativity in the public Schools” Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Harvard CRCL. 7 Feb. Web. 18 Sept. 2012 http://harvardcrcl. org/2012/02/07/measuring-creativity-in-the-public-schools/ Robinson, Ken. “Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity” TED 2006. Feb. 2006. Web. 10 Sept. 2012 http://www. ted. com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity. html Wilson, Leslie. “Discouraging Creativity In Children”. Creativity Killers. 2002. Web.