Our Opinion: Is School Killing Creativity?

Our Opinion: Is School Killing Creativity?

Alannah Post, Editor-in-Chief

At first, the instinctual answer to that question is “No – why would anyone think that?”

Public schools have any number of art classes, creative writing outlets, and various clubs for students to express themselves in a creative manner. BDHS itself offers multiple advanced level art classes (AICE Art IV, for example, which is a weighted credit class), as well as photography, creative writing,and theatre classes. It seems like students have ample opportunity for self-expression.

But creativity does not cease to exist outside of the art hallways and the auditorium. Everyday creativity is almost essential in classes like math (yes, the subject generally known to be the least creative) and English, where students have to find ways to solve problems that may be outside of the textbook norm. It is important for students to nurture creativity in these settings, especially in the areas of science and mathematics where it is more often discouraged, because without that element there is little room for innovation. Fail to nurture and encourage creativity along with critical thinking, and the world ends up with students who can only solve problems of a certain type with a certain method, and that does not exactly bode well for progress.

To Sir Ken Robinson, “creativity is as important as literacy and we should afford it the same status,” as he says in his TEDTalk entitled “Do schools kill creativity?”, which is currently the most watched TEDTalk of all time. Public schools have been increasing reliance and favoritism of not just core classes, but specifically math and science classes. Robinson compares the ideal environment to the introduction of crop rotation during the Enlightenment period – harvests yielded bigger and healthier crops when the plants were rotated since the soil had been exposed to various different types of crops, making it more nutrient rich due to the diversification. He believes the minds of students are the same way.

“Diversification” is a key word – no one is saying that schools should undermine the importance that science and math classes bring to a student’s critical thinking skills. However, schools should also highlight the importance that non-STEM classes bring to critical thinking in terms of creativity. None are so critical as the critically creative, who learn to see new solutions to old problems due to diversification in their education. Understanding that allowing (and more importantly encouraging) students to explore their imaginations and truly grow into their creativity rather than growing out of it by deprivation of a proper outlet is key to producing a more innovative and, as studies show encouraged self-expression can promote, happier generation.