Sunday, April 10, 2016

Does School Kill Creativity?

If you're a teacher who pays attention to anything in the world of staff development and critical analysis of school reform efforts, then you've certainly heard - probably numerous times - Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talks presentation about how "schools are killing creativity."  It is embedded below.  You may have even seen a shortened, but very clever visual interpretation of Sir Ken Robinson's ideas as presented by RSA Animate - which is a great site and organization unto itself.

However, Brian Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, offers an interesting follow up to Sir Ken Robinson's assertions.  Perhaps, as Rosenberg asserts, schools aren't killing creativity, but instead "society is killing the ability of schools to encourage creativity."  Critics of the obsessive standardized test culture - reflective of only left-brain thinking - would certainlhy agree.

Certainly, there is little to criticize about Ken Robinson's ideas regarding creativity.  It is, as Rosenberg notes, difficult to argue against the idea of creativity in schools.  And, I firmly believe we have weakened our schools and society as a whole with a single-minded approach to education that is based on a factory model of creating workers.  For this reason, I have attempted to modify and "enrich" my English classroom with lessons such as "multi-genre research papers" and even "interpretive dance" while studying poetry.  I've also tried to embrace right-brain thinking with my senior before they graduate by using Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind as one of our texts.

There is little doubt that the left brain skills and standardized testing of them have served to provide a stability and continuity in education.  And that stability is important.  But schools are remiss if they don't pursue, vigorously, the addition of more right-brained approaches to education - at the same time pursuing and guaranteeing basic skills of literacy

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