Do schools kill creativity?

images“Many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not — because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”
Sir Ken Robinson

When I think of education these days I am reminded of Roger Waters prophetic lyrics from Pink Floyd’s album The Wall ….“All in all you’re just another brick in the wall.”   According to Sir Ken Robinson author of the book “Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative”, we don’t get the best out of people, because we have all been trained to be good workers, rather than creative thinkers.  Students with restless minds and bodies – far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity – are ignored or even stigmatized.

As a child you were probably steered away at school from doing things that you liked on the grounds that you would never get a job doing it.  You were told to spend less time on your baseball swing and more time on your history.  You were encouraged to put away your paints or stop dancing or play acting, because actors, dancers and artists generally don’t have real, stable money-making careers.  As a result, many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not – because the thing that they were good at at school just wasn’t valued.

“It is often said that education and training are the keys to the future. They are, but a key can be turned in two directions. Turn it one way and you lock resources away, even from those they belong to. Turn it the other way and you release resources and give people back to themselves. To realize our true creative potential—in our organizations, in our schools and in our communities—we need to think differently about ourselves and to act differently towards each other. We must learn to be creative.”

The following is Sir Ken Robinson’s amusing and informative 2006 TED talk.  Enjoy!

We always appreciate your comments, please let us know what you think.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Silu (pronounced sloo) April 28, 2014, 8:34 pm

    I am one of whose creative abilities were never enhanced but rather the key was turned the other way to lock the creative out because being an artist will not pay for my bills yet today I am unable to even keep a job as I have ignorantly believed the lies I was taught along with the segregation laws that were implemented to keep all the black people quite in this beloved country of ours, South Africa. The rule of fear was the exception and ignorance was the game. I have two teenagers and am steering them towards being more creative with their imagination rather than looking to “study hard for the sake of getting good jobs” but instead to realize and unlock their potential and effectively implement change creatively for their and others benefits. My son is mostly the one whose mind runs all over the show but once again, he like me has been made to feel bad about himself and I was one of the culprits until recently when I saw him pick up a guitar for the first time and learn how to play it in just one weekend without being pushed to do so. Thank you for hi – lighting this issue. I have a lot to say but I think I have to stop here. Stay creative.

  • Dianna June 16, 2014, 7:37 pm

    This is sooo funny and inspiring! I still remember taking a creativity test in elementary school, and how I still wanted to keep adding more to the “test.”

    In addition, I once created a collage of a still life and made a guitar with watermelon see eyes to be humorous. The teacher asked why I made it that way.

    I was extremely fortunate that my mom and dad never criticized my creativity. They may have been critical of many other things, but never of my artistic talents. (Except they never thought I could make money doing it…)

    My creativity is my greatest strength. Of course my greatest “weakness” is constantly having more ideas than I can work on.

    Many people think they aren’t creative. But, in truth, it’s like an unused muscle — it just needs to be re-discovered within the human spirit and soul.

    Creativity is being open to being very resourceful and good at “problem-solving.”

    Here’s a good question — Do creative people have a better sense of humor?

    Thanks for listening.


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