Is it time to change the way we educate?

What do you think: when it comes to creativity, does a standard education – established by traditional studies and achievements, evaluated by standardized testing – affect creativity?

The New York Times recently asked a slightly different – albeit related – question: Are we educating students on the important stuff, or just how to pass the test?

In the NYT article, a unique, changing, education system is on the rise at Seth Boyden Elementary School in Maplewood, New Jersey: “The school is rooted in a theory by Harvard University professor Howard Gardner that asserts that in addition to teaching reading and math, schools should focus on how children interact with one another and express themselves through nature, art and movement.”

The article expands on how education has changed at Seth Boyden Elementary School, and notes on what the changes are doing for the students: “The approach seemed to work: test scores went up and the school moved off the district’s list of schools in need of improvement.”

Consider your formal education: did you learn how to exercise your creativity and experiment with variables? Were you educated into believing that there are more ways to get “4” than simply “2+2”? Or were you led to believe that there is always a right way to do something and a wrong way?

Consider a comment from a post from GOOD Magazine titled Can Teaching Around the Test Marry Creativity and Standards? which reads:

I’ve always believed in a creative education and somehow standardized testing does NOT cover all aspects of capability. It merely reflects how much one remembers and how much one is methodical.

What do you think? Is it time to re‒consider what education means to you? Is it time to re‒evaluate how you learn and how we – as a society – educate each other?

Does schooling lead away from creativity?

Schooling has been promoted as a road to success for quite some time now. However, as the perceived importance of formal education has grown, true creativity appears to be on the decline. But why?

For all of the education we are getting as a society ‒ in the United States specifically ‒ we seem to have lost sight of what it takes to be a modern‒day Edison, Wright, or Einstein.

It’s not a new idea, Sir Ken Robinson has given a tremendously popular talk on the topic of schools killing creativity. Talk with any creative thinker and they’ll tell you that the current formal education is designed to produce workers not thinkers.

And we have to give credit where credit is due.

When the current schooling system was designed it was done so in a way that would help promote the industrial revolution. Assembly factories were popping up across the world, and those factories needed workers.

At the time our current education system was being developed the world was racing for the moon, fighting cold wars, and worrying about the possibility of a missile‒ intense war.

Back then we needed people who could do one job, very well, repeatedly, day‒in and day‒out.

But schooling wasn’t designed to only produce workers, the US government needed to easily identify those geniuses amongst us who could help develop the next factory or nuclear weapon or rocket engine. So an emphasis was placed on mathematics and the sciences. Music, art, and many other important learning opportunities have been put on the sidelines and, in many areas around the world, have even been abolished from education entirely.

As a result, students are forced into a methodological way of thinking that deprives them of creativity.

Students cannot explore themselves or their creativity with the current schooling system. Rather than being given the opportunity to explore their interests, their talents, and the activities that make them feel happy, students are forced to learn topics and methods that ‒ while beneficial ‒ ultimately deprive them of being creative and finding who they are.

Are all schools bad? Not at all. In‒fact, there are countless art institutes and creative‒incubators around the world for students who want to explore topics outside of the generic “norm”. However, most creative schools come later in life, after the average student has already been taught that a creative lifestyle is an unproductive one ‒ or, at the very least, a poor one.