How Schools Kill Creativity

This classic TED (Technology, Education, Design) talk is one of the most inspiring, funny and important you’ll ever hear. Do yourself a favour and WATCH IT (it’ll be one of the fastest 20 minutes of your life). As an ex-teacher and now business person, I thoroughly endorse Sir Ken Robinson’s premise – we need to make creativity as important as Maths and English.

“We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it, or rather we get educated out of it.” he says.

Kids are naturally creative. They have a hunger for learning and wonder. “If they don’t know, they’ll have a go.” It’s wonderful to behold.

What we then do though is line them up in rows for 12 or more years and beat creativity out of them in one long “university entrance” process. We demonise mistakes. And not just in schools, in workplaces too. By the time the poor individual is in their 40s the spark has long since gone, the mortgage and other commitments too overpowering to allow for risks.

As Basil Fawlty once remarked: “What was that? Oh that was your life mate. Oh that was quick, do I get another? Sorry mate that’s your lot.

What the world needs is creative people, people who can take risks, make mistakes, and solve some problems. Sadly, the education system is not set up to produce this. It was set up to serve 19th century industry. (What century are we in now?)

“Education produces university professors… who live in their heads, and slightly to one side, ” says Sir Ken, “and they regard their bodies as a means of getting their heads to meetings!”

We have no idea what careers will be required in 5, let alone 25, years time. My own job did not exist 12 months ago, and my industry is not yet 15 years old. What jobs will my own kids have in 10 years time? Who knows.

A few weeks ago, an ex teaching colleague of mine, let’s call him Lloyd (‘cos that’s his name) came over to visit from where he is teaching in New Zealand. The school he’s at takes Ken Robinson’s work seriously and has forged a new path. One of only 2 such schools in the country, it takes a completely collaborative, student-centred and creative approach to learning. Lloyd does not stand at the front of the class, he is always in the middle. The ‘classrooms’ (such as they are) have no walls and you can see and hear the next class just to the side. It’s all open, free and they take Wednesdays off to work on anything the students want to do. And it works.

Here’s Lloyd explaining it better than I ever could.

I feel sure this is the way forward. When I hire at work I look for two things: an ability to learn and a genuine desire to help clients. Give me someone who has these two characteristics and we can do anything together.

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2 thoughts on “How Schools Kill Creativity

  1. Hi Charlie, I have a question for you. I deal with a lot of contractors and 90% are fantastic. I have recently suspect I have got caught by one of the 10% who do not do the right thing and leave a wake of damage and people feeling ripped offin the process. How would I – ( A) find out if there is anybody else out there caught be the same people. (b) Warn others without getting sued in the process? Brian Sullivan

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