Are Schools Destroying our Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson is one of the most popular TED speakers and an expert in the field of creativity.  His 2006 talk, “Do Schools kill Creativity” has been viewed more than 40 million times in over 160 countries and is a topic that is very much relevant today.  No, he does not hate education, but rather, he views imagination as of equal importance and schools are currently focusing on one over the other.

We’re running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make and the result of that is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

One of the most startling stories he loves to share is about a performing arts school he helped create in Liverpool where Paul McCartney and George Harrison (of The Beatles) attended. Now, when you hear this, you’d think that this performing arts school must have cultivated the Paul’s and George’s talents to help them create the greatest rock band mankind has ever known….

But no, apparently both Paul and George went through the whole of school and nobody thought they had any talent!  One music teacher had half The Beatles in his class and he missed it!

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Jack Ma’s stories on failure and Angela Lee Duckworth’s talk on grit, it’s that success comes through perseverance through failure.  Sir Ken Robinson’s point, however, is that our schools have created a system where failure and mistakes are punished and where kids are frightened of being wrong and of not fitting into a certain mold.  As Sir Ken puts it, “We’re running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make and the result of that is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”

Sir Ken’s point isn’t that education is destroying creativity, but rather, our fundamental principles of intelligence, creativity, and teaching must change in order to best educate our children.  The bottom line is that mistakes are not always bad. Mistakes are not things we should fear.  That doesn’t mean we should go out of our way to make mistakes for the heck of it, but it means that in our endeavors, we should never let fear of failure prevent us from trying!  Mistakes are essential for us to grow not just as human beings but as creative beings as well.  

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