Creativity: Or What Kids Have Before We Teach It Out of Them

For those who follow me on Twitter, you will not be surprised to see me dedicate this post to Sir Ken Robinson, who is one of my heroes. I figure it is less painful, expensive, and borderline obsessive than getting the Ken Robinson tattoo I have been contemplating. Although, I haven’t totally ruled it out yet.

Robinson is one of the leading authorities on creativity and innovation, and is passionate about education reform. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a great read. He has written numerous articles and books, and his capacity for divergent thinking is perhaps only surpassed by his ability to inspire it in others. Now THAT my friends, is an educator!

The notion of creativity has come up several times since I started this blog two short weeks ago — either in the writings themselves, or in the thoughtful comments of TGSG readers. It is a theme that cannot be separated from discussions on play, education, and learning. Frankly, it should be an underlying theme in whatever topics are being discussed — economics, health care, or sustainability. Regardless of what the issue or problem, creativity is key to thoroughly engaging people in the process of understanding and discussing it, as well as bringing about the most effective solutions.

In yesterday’s post on kindergarten
we talked about how that, in spite of the call for creativity as the future of our workforce, the current education system is designed to limit creativity, and has sadly put the once-untouched Kindergarten classroom in peril. Now, it is a secret to nobody that the United States in in desperate need of K-12 education reform. No Child Left Behind, while well-intentioned, has left an already-cumbersome and flawed system basically on life support. Schools are failing, teachers are over-burdened and bogged down with paperwork, children are learning to take tests, but what they are retaining, including their love of learning and their ability to actually apply that knowledge, is in question.

As the new administration looks at education reform, I sincerely hope that they do so with creative minds and divergent thinking. I hope that they realize that this is not a race. That the testing madness that is the current model is not the answer, and that raising the bar without changing the methodologies will get them nowhere. I hope that they recognize that the way children are educated in the early years has a lasting affect, and that every child is creative and special and has something to offer society. If we help them love to learn and nurture their inherent abilities now, that every aspect of society will be better off in the future, including the much sought after STEM Race (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).

Sir Ken Robinson calls for education reform to take place at three levels: Curriculum, assessment, and pedagogy — and for all three to be rooted in creativity. I couldn’t agree with him more.

Below is the TED speech given by Robinson on the topic of education and creativity. Regardless of your interest area, I think you will benefit from spending some time in the creative world of Sir Ken Robinson. Even if you have heard him speak before, it is always a treat. He is as charming and funny as he is intelligent and thought-provoking. I hope that Education Secretary Arne Duncan and friends are taking notes. Just sayin’.

So, enjoy a little screen-time and then go outside and play.

See ya outside! – The Grass Stain Guru

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