Schools and Creativity

school room by Conspirator

Do Schools Kill Creativity? A Comical Inquest at TED:

If you think of yourself as someone who understands creativity, this is an essential talk by Ken Robinson, from the TED Conference. He calls into question the antiquated teaching models we have in the Western world, and asks many great questions about creative thinking and the business world.

Key quotes from Mr. Robinson:

“My contention is that creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.”

“They’re [children] not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say being wrong is the same as being creative. What we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you won’t come up with anything original. And by the time most children get to be adults most children have lost that capacity.”

It’s a funny, enlightening and well reasoned 20 minutes. Highly recommended.

Video: Do schools kill creativity, Ken Robinson, TED

Ahh. Education. Always good for some nice discussion. This is a very entertaining talk, though.

Most schools do drive out creativity in many students but I think they also force some students to become more creative, in order to get around the roadblocks presented by schools.

Just as patents/copyrights put barriers in the way of innovators, requiring them to find a new way forward , so too can public education.

However, these students would probably be creative no matter what, while the vast majority will have creativity pushed out of them. It is a real waste. This is one reason I expect public education to see vast changes.

The following represents a model of the approaches that may be taken using Web 2.0 tools. It is really simplification of what is possible. The question is how fast this model in some form is adopted.

Working together to solve problems in a collaborative fashion results in faster innovation cycles. This will be true in school also. Ones that use Web 2.0 approaches to teach will find that their students are more creative and better able to solve difficult problems. This will be superior for solving the complex problems seen today than the 19th century approaches we use today.

This is not about teaching a curriculum that will solve all our problems. This has been attempted for the last 150 years. This is about changing the basic manner in which we teach children.

It will be less authoritarian, with less of a stern headmaster using a top-down approach and more of a collaborative approach. Rote memorization of things like what year an event happened will not be as important, since this will be too easy to find online. But understanding the results of an event, how it changed the world, will be among the important skills that will be taught.

In a Web 2.0 world, finding information is easy. Using it to create knowledge is more rapidly facilitated by working in groups.

And because Web 2.0 tools make explicit many things that are usually hidden in today’s approaches, it will be possible to tease out data such as each person’s contribution. Those that try to freeload on the backs of their group can be more easily identified and dealt with.

I do not expect it to be Nirvana but schools that adopt more of the approaches, particularly with older students, will find they are more successful at meeting many of the metrics being used today, at least the ones examining creativity and innovation.

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