Is education squashing creativity?

I read with interest this article this morning. The gist is that all of this assessment-driven teaching is squashing our kids’ creativity.

This paragraph in particular jumped out at me:

“Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today.  In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world.  But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes.  We are also, […] increasingly depriving children of free time outside of school to play, explore, be bored, overcome boredom, fail, overcome failure—that is, to do all that they must do in order to develop their full creative potential.”

This articulates the feeling that I’ve had for some time – that my own kids are sometimes so busy at school, doing homework, practicing music, that they don’t get the down time that is required to really be creative. Overcoming boredom is part of the process of becoming creative and this is one of the reasons we limit screen time in our house. It’s natural to want to flip a switch for stimulation when you are bored (ask any lab rat!) but those lulls are necessary for creativity. And clearly, finding out what won’t work (let’s not call it failure) is part of the creative process.

The plan is that environments like the one we create at Fire Tech Camp where exploration and trial and error are encouraged will foster imagination, iteration, learning via feedback, implementation of improvements as a way to teach children how to think differently, how to think about problems and solutions, how to innovate. Kids need more space to explore and fail, and as that is not happening in a lot of classrooms, their extra curricular learning becomes a more and more important part of the overall education.




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