In his Ted Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” - now ranked as the most popular TED Talk of all time - Sir Ken Robinson (@sirkenrobinson) sheds light on the state of creativity in American education today, as well as the importance of cultivating creative thinking among students (Robinson, Ken, 2006). Sir Robinson is a foremost expert in the field of creativity in education, and the ideas he shares have the potential to revolutionize our education system. In this article, we’ll explore some of the concepts he introduced in more depth and take a look at what they could mean for our education system and the creativity of our nation’s youth.
The Uncertainty of the Future
In his talk, Sir Robinson touches on the uncertainty of the future, stating that “It’s education that’s meant to take us into a future that we can’t grasp”. Sir Robinson notes that students graduating today won’t be retiring until the 60’s, but that “Nobody has a clue […] What the world will look like in 5 years time… And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it”.
This is an interesting point. Considering the ever-increasing rate of innovation in technology and thought, how can we be sure that information considered to be crucial today won’t be obsolete or outsourced to technology within the decade?
Yet, while we may be able to outsource and out-innovate many of the skills we are currently teaching in schools, we will never be able to outsource or out-innovate the creative potential that is uniquely human.
This idea of a rapidly changing and unpredictable future acknowledges the importance of providing students with a creative education now more than ever.
Disabled or a Dancer?
One of the stories Ken shares is about a mother who was told by her daughter’s school that the daughter may have a learning disability. So she took her daughter to a specialist to have her looked at, and while she was speaking to the specialist her daughter was dancing. After observing the little girl for awhile, the specialist said to the woman, “There is nothing wrong with your child. She's a born dancer.” That girl grew up to become a world-renowned dancer, choreographing such classic Broadway pieces as “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera”.
This sums up the way in which our education system, as it exists in its current state, fails to acknowledge children’s unique talents in a way that allows them to flourish and grow. But this doesn’t just apply to the fields that are typically viewed as creative, such as dance and the other arts; it applies to any field that benefits from creativity or innovation, such as the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Encouraging students to explore and develop their unique gifts gives them the best chance at a happy and successful future, while simultaneously ensuring their maximum utility to our society from a creative standpoint.
Revitalizing Creativity in Education with Brackitz
Creativity is a way of viewing the world that sees possibilities instead of limits. It’s a mental framework that encourages the thinker to find new ways to build, grow, and discover. Because of its foundational nature, it’s important to start encouraging children to develop this inquisitive way of thinking as early as possible.
There are many ways to implement creative education in the classroom. Construction systems such as Brackitz offer a fun and versatile method of teaching creativity (Clements, D. H., & Sarama, J. 2007), and can seamlessly integrate with lesson plans that inspire creativity.
For instance, construction systems can be used as instructional manipulatives in teaching geometry to students, enable students to express and create in ways that demonstrate their engineering skills and improve their spatial abilities, or even be used as part of playtime, allowing students to continue engaging their minds in a creative way while having fun.
For a list of ways on how to use Brackitz in the classroom, check out our article “6 Creative Ways to Use Brackitz Construction Systems in the Classroom”.
Sir Robinson was right: The future is uncertain. And, as it stands today, children are being incentivised toward the sort of rigid thinking that sacrifices the development of their unique creative talents. But it’s not too late to turn this around; just as it’s never too early to begin instilling creativity, it’s never too late either.
Incorporating creativity into education is a proactive defense against the uncertainty and potential rapid advancement of our society. No matter how advanced we become or what challenges we are faced with in the years to come, creativity and innovation will be there to inspire and guide us as long as we are willing to continue making room for them in our children’s lives.
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