Creativity and Education

Earlier I wrote about the challenge of teaching about tools without limiting their potential applications. Many have lamented about the shortcomings of our education system in fostering creativity and teaching the students to think. The reason for this is well described in this video.

and yet this raises the obvious question, is our society really ready for all the creativity and thought which will be unleashed once we overhaul the education. The simple answer is no. The main reason for this is that our perception of the world, the work we do, and the way we live is ultimately biased against creativity. Many times, the main activity we do is to precisely do as we learn to do. We don’t want most of our professionals to be creative, but rather to do their job well. That stands in contradiction to what we teach our children about creativity. As a result there is a culture shock, as children enter the world of the grown ups. In this respect, the action of schools is to reduce this culture shock. To prevent this we need to create a system which provides a creative outlook for people. Enable everyone, everywhere, to practice creativity, or to play, as well described by John Cleese.

So the question remains, can creativity and work be combined. The answer is of course, they must be. But in looking at various forms of art we can actually draw a conclusion that they in fact can very well be combined. Most of art combines a vision, a story, some play, and a lot of hard, dedicated and even repetitive work. Be it rehearsing music, drawing a painting, or writing computer code. The key to achieving this is passion. So as many preach, we need to do the things we are passionate about. But this is easier said than done.

The challenge we face in education is helping people identify the things they are passionate about. But in today’s competitive world, people are busy excelling rather than learning. I read somewhere about a university that strives all its students finish with as high a grade as they can. Hence they can repeat any exam until they are satisfied with their grade. This has several effects.

  • it reduces the pressure from the single exam
  • it enables students to well represent their knowledge in the grades
  • it increases the learning

But what if all students are now A students. How can an employer now decide who is best for him ? Actually our system expects the standard curve to distinguish between people. But it distinguishes on the criteria we know how to measure, which is the ability to learn specific tools, rather than the criteria we don’t yet know how to measure such as passion. If we knew how to do that, maybe education would be all about creating our identity and recognizing our passion.

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