Classrooms all around the world are under threat. Pencils, calculators, standardized tests, and erasers are being used as tanks, bombs, and rifles in the war against creativity. These war zones are places where students are asked to draw a tree. Some students are deemed “talented”, others have trees that look decent, and some students could not give a visual figure of a tree. The teacher rates every student’s work; giving some an A+ all the way down to an F. Those students who got A’s now believe they’re highly talented and artistic, but those who got an F will always be afraid of being wrong. From this “draw a tree” assignment, creativity starts to linger in the air and then, in time, fades away. This is why many adults say “I can’t draw.” This is a representation of how modern classrooms are made to operate: to try and produce a multitude of future workers with the same thoughts and the same capabilities. School is said to be the great equalizer, but equality should not mean making every student the same. Classrooms everywhere are educating children out of their natural born creativity and into artificial fact. Students who went into kindergarten being able to weave vibrant storylines unique to mankind leave 6th grade without any ability to even conjure original thought. As Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist.” The problem is to stay that way, after a constant bombardment of. memorization, “you’re doing it wrong,” and creativity being valued less on a hierarchy of subjects. Through research, I would support the claim of how, in an increasingly changing workforce that requires creative minds, the current structure of education will not prepare the next generation for the creative problems ahead.
It is no debate that schools around the world have put certain subjects above others. Ken Robinson, one of the world’s most influential educators who did a TED Talk on this subject, questions how, “There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don’t we?” He reiterates this idea throughout the entirety of the talk; how there are the same hierarchy of subjects, mathematics and languages at the top, then the humanities, and the arts at the bottom. This stigmatizes children who are natural-born dancers and unskilled in math. In my own experience, engineering majors will look down on music and art majors, saying they will never be able to make money, are less intelligent, are wasting their time, and etcetera. This mindset is nothing new. Throughout their educational careers, they have been told which subjects are considered more important to society, and so children who are talented artists may find themselves giving into the world of mathematics in order to not be looked down upon by peers or parents. Engineering and other STEM occupations are extremely important to the welfare of society, but this does not make them “superior” to the arts enough that schools must stress them above all else. If anything, the arts are what make us human. In the Dead Poet’s Society, Robin William’s character of John Keating said this best. “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” Schools are forgetting this, as they put students wanting to be doctors on a pedestal and students who write poetry. in the dark. No wonder no one wants to be creative. Originality and art is at the bottom of the totem pole.
This generation is scientifically less original. Saying that the kids of today are becoming less creative sounds like a jaded adult, but a study in 2010 proved just that. Using 300,000 creativity tests going back to the 1970s, Kyung Hee Kim, a creativity researcher at the College of William and Mary, found creativity has decreased among American children in recent years. Since 1990, children have become less able to produce unique and unusual ideas. They are also less humorous, less imaginative and less able to elaborate on ideas, Kim said. It is not that children are being born less creative, it is that their innate imaginations are not being nurtured. Standardized tests are the obvious factor to be blamed for this phenomenon, as they teach students that there is only one right answer to every question, and that deviating from this answer in any way will result in consequences. In real life, this causes workers to be afraid of thinking outside boxes, or rather, test bubbles that can only be marked with a number two pencil. Then, everything taught in the classroom revolves around increasing these test scores, so this eliminates any time for novel thought. In her study, Dr Kim analysed results from the Torrance test, an exam that measures an aspect of creativity called divergent thinking. In this test, kids might be shown two circles and asked to draw something out of these shapes. Interestingly, scores on the Torrance test have been decreasing while SAT scores are increasing. However, better test scores do not necessarily translate to improved creativity, Dr Kim said. You can do well on a test by studying a lot, but it won’t encourage original thinking. Dr Kim said No Child Left Behind, an act of Congress passed in 2001 that requires schools to administer annual standardised tests as a way to assess whether they are meeting state education standards, may be partly responsible for the drop in creativity scores. “I believe No Child Left Behind really hurt creativity,”’ Kim said. “If we just focus on just No Child Left Behind — testing, testing, testing — then how can creative students survive?” Everything floating around the minds of the youth are ideas to which have already existed, and this is exactly what the system feeds off of. The system needs every student in America to know the same facts and answer the same questions the same way. If the real world operated like this, mankind would be content with what was already known, and not search for more answers. The world would never be round, as the answer to “what shape is the world?” would be always be answer C on the bubble sheet for “flat.” And those who thought differently would never succeed in the system. It is not the teacher’s fault, they just fall victim to a system where the key to a student’s future relies on standardized tests.
The entire path to this academic success thrives on the genocide of creativity. CEOs like Rajat Bhageria, teenage founder of a startup company for aiding the visually impaired, questions this system everyday. “I got into a phenomenal school, but is that really the point of life, just to get into [places]? Get into the next job. Get a promotion. I felt [that model] doesn’t really work” One of the points of life is to create new things to offer to humanity, but students are so preoccupied with reaching these illusions of academic achievement, that they forget to explore their own imaginative capabilities. This throws all children who were once artists into office jobs all in the name of. becoming a “success.” Not to mention all the formats children must memorize from a young age for how to create things. I have taken art classes where the art teacher describes step-by-step how to arrive to an end product of “art.”. This is not art.This is mass production, like a car factory. When I deviated from this instruction, she gave me a lower grade on my art, and told me I did the assignment wrong. Art cannot be done wrong! Even this essay is a product less about the new ideas and perspectives presented, and more about the format. Grades are really just distributed on whether MLA is followed and if a coherent thesis is present. One must have 1 inch margins, white 8.5 x 11-inch paper, double-spaced text, and a legible font (e.g. Times New Roman) about a 12 in size. What if there are certain ideas much better presented in
in comic sans,
and highlighted in black?
I bet I just got points taken off for not sticking to the format, so does it actually matter what I am saying? It really does not matter what any of us are saying, as long as it appears professional and follows all guidelines. This is what will get us into colleges and jobs. This is what will earn us great lives so we can raise perfect families on the graves of our free thinking. Life could be happier that way, but we will never advance as a culture while sticking to the formats left for us by our ancestors.
Welcome to a world where test scores are a determination of intelligence. Where people like Albert Einstein are deemed stupid. His parents even worried that he had a learning disability because he when he hated the rote, disciplined style of the teachers at his Munich school, and he dropped out when he was 15, even though it was noted that he was a creative and influential problem solver even in elementary school, according to history.com. Then, when he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, he flunked. He continued to struggle, and some doubted that he would graduate. He did, but not by much. This is how the young physicist found himself working in the Swiss Patent Office instead of at a university. By a school’s definition, this type of student is less intelligent than one who passed the entrance exam. The only difference is that one of these students discovered the theory of relativity, and the other became lost to history. The latter one passed the entrance exam.Overall, the world needs the individuals who do not thrive under the structure of school in order to invent new and beautiful things.
We need the flunkers.
We need the weird.
We need the deviations of the social norm.
Not everyone shares the same form of measurable intelligence, and school systems do not understand this. With new standards being created and new attempts at measuring them increasing every year, even teachers feel their creativity being drained out their toes. Perhaps if Einstein had been accepted into the polytechnic school on his first try, he would have succumbed to being the same as everyone else through the extensive memorization needed to pass. Great thinkers like Einstein would be lost to history.
Conceivably, many Einsteins in the world have been on the front lines of the classroom battles against creativity. Most do not survive. They walk away from the war zones wearing suits; their messy white hair combed back and briefcases in their hands instead of violins. Standardized tests are the atom bombs, common core the mustard gas, and formats the infantry. Creativity still exists in this world. Most is unseen, because it lies behind the barbed wire of concentration camps. Feeding it rotten porridge once a day has made creativity emaciated and weak, but it is still there. Not strong, but still there. Give creativity your pity, like a sad dog in a humane society commercial with the sad piano music playing, because we need this forgotten creature for the next generation.“In the 21st century, the world demands students who can think creatively and critically. As technology develops, we will have robots to do all the basic work for us. However, it is our mission to ensure that the next generation will be full of inventors, musicians, painters, mathematicians who will, in turn, bring humanity to another level” (Dalile, 2012). It is our duty to ensure that the minds of the future are going to be superior to our own. Is this not the goal of education? We are losing sight of this goal beneath the grades and standards. Children with talent beyond measure must be realized, but before that can happen, a treaty must be made on the battlefields. A treaty between logic and imagination that will be able to nurture the innate powers of Einsteins. Because is it not ironic that many classrooms swear by this poster hanging on their walls,
but when time to practice it, knowledge is repeatedly held above the dying carcass of imagination? Colleges do not care what wonders I can imagine. They care about what I pretend I know, like calculus and other useless concepts I will only use if I become an engineer like they so hope I and everyone else in my class do. And then they wonder why we can not be original anymore.