Thursday, April 10, 2008

TED Talk on the Educational System Killing Creativity

I watch a lot of TED videos and this one on creativity and education is excellent. Not so much a criticism of education perhaps as a criticism of people in general. I think that most homeschooling parents have in them, too, the sense that there are more important areas of intelligence, Math and Science and so forth, and it's simply not true. The trick is to not kill the creativity that is inately there and replace it with our own vision of educational importance.

The real question is, are parents and educators ready to allow kids to retain their innate creativity and curiosity while not knowing what a worldwide movement of that radical idea would bring about? Which children will be sacrificed on the alter of right-brain based education to maintain our world? Which children will be allowed to flourish creatively on their own?

Fascinating talk. Some excerpts:

Picasso once said this, he said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don't grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it. So why is this?

But something strikes you when you move to America and when you travel around the world: every education system on earth has the same heirarchy of subjects. Every one, doesn't matter where you go, you'd think it would be otherwise but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on earth.

Truthfully what happens is, as children grow up we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.

Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there's a reason. The whole system was invented round the world there were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism.

So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas: Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician; don't do art, you're not going to be an artist. Benign advice -- now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.

And the second is, academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that 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. And I think we can't afford to go on that way.

She's been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she's given pleasure to millions, and she's a multimillionaire.

Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.