The TED video above is the most widely viewed of their videos, nearly 12 million views. It poses a very interesting proposition about modern education. Sir Ken Robinson’s thesis is:
Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and it should be treated with the same status.
This rhymes true with Albert Einstein’s famous quote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Sir Ken Robinson makes the case that the national education systems educate people out of creativity.
I was a public school teacher in the 90s. I like to think I was pretty good, but the system was difficult to work in. Wendy and I pulled our kids out and began homeschooling them. Though scary at first and filled with self-doubt, it was one of the best parenting decisions we ever made in our lives. We totally get what Robinson and Einstein meant.
And I believe most people do. They may not choose home education for their children, but most recognize the need to reestablish creativity in education. It’s no wonder that this video is TED’s most viewed. People get it. It’s the bureaucracy that doesn’t.
I have a profound thought on “creativity.” I believe that creativity is one trait that separates us from any other animal on the planet. We respond to the elements of creation as actors, not reactors. When it rains, all other animals run for shelter. We build shelters.
In fact, let me get spiritual on you. I call creativity an “image of God trait.” You may be familiar with the biblical pronouncement of mankind, that we were “created in the image of God.” It’s sort of a perplexing thought, but not when you think of what creativity is. We are creators, and that’s what we’re meant to do.
Yet the educational systems of the world do all they can to squash the creativity in children. As an educator myself, I have three responses to this:
- As Robinson advocates, treat creativity with the same status as literacy. Expect it, encourage it, reward it.
- Encourage disagreement. Debate and argumentation are good things. Teach kids to think, speak and persuade. Creativity will bloom from the discourse.
- Consider alternatives other than the expected public school option. Charter, private, tutor, home – these are all viable options available today.
In other words, refuse to be put into the box of the bureaucracy when considering the educational choice of your children. This not only goes for your personal family, but also for larger government and local community choices. “That’s the way it always has been” is a lousy policy plan. In fact – I believe Sir Ken Robinson would agree – such a strategy would be feeding the beast that kills creativity in our young people.
Watch the video. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave your comments below.