Nurturing Creativity

Paul ScuttUncategorized

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In 2006 the on-line talk by Sir Ken Robinson “Do Schools Kill Creativity” initiated in me a profound desire to change the high school experience for the young people in my care at the time. One of my favourite snippets from the talk is this:

I heard a great story recently — I love telling it — of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six, and she was at the back, drawing, and the teacher said this girl hardly ever paid attention, and in this drawing lesson, she did. The teacher was fascinated. She went over to her, and she said, “What are you drawing?” And the girl said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, “But nobody knows what God looks like.” And the girl said, “They will, in a minute.” (from transcript of Robinson’s TED talk)

Like the teacher in that story we can be so sure that we know more than the youngster that it is almost automatic that we want to “correct” them. To bring them round to the way of thinking that is mainstream. At one time the mainstream thought was that the Sun rotated around the Earth, now it might be the importance of memorizing the multiplication tables, or spelling “favourite” correctly. And, while all knowledge is useful my hope is that, as our research into the process of learning expands our understanding, we will also give plenty of time and respect to what we don’t know and to what young people are curious about and eager to explore, without the need to satisfy mainstream curricula.

Another quotation from Ken Robinson:

Too often now we are systematically alienating people from their own talents and, therefore, from the whole process of education. This isn’t, to me, a whimsical argument, like, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we all did something we liked.” It’s a fundamental human truth that people perform better when they’re in touch with things that inspire them. For some people, it’s gymnastics; for some people, it’s playing the blues; and for some people, it’s doing calculus.

We know this because human culture is so diverse and rich—and our education system is becoming increasingly dreary and monotonous. It’s no surprise to me that so many kids are pulling out of it. Even the ones who stay are often detached. Only a few people benefit from this process. But it’s far too few to justify the waste. (from Why Creativity Now? A Conversation with Sir Ken Robinson, by Amy M. Azza)