Friday, December 10, 2010

Schools kill creativity

Sir Ken Robinson was knighted in 2003 for his achievements in creativity, education and the arts. He has given two outstanding TED talks, and I strongly recommend seeing at least the first one:

In this talk, he points out, with a lot of humor, that conventional one-size-fits-all schooling kills creativity, and that the main end of our outdated education system, which focuses exclusively on a narrow view of deductive reasoning, seems to be to produce college professors. He argues forcefully that we have to revolutionize education dramatically if we want our kids to grow up to be more creative and self-fulfilled individuals.

Oh, and you simply should not miss the fun animated version of another one of his talks:
Changing Educational Paradigms:

(RSA has other informative talks in this highly entertaining animated format that you might like to see as well.)


Marc said...

It's certainly hard to argue for education systems that leaves many of its students stranded.

In the end, though, there need to be measures of how well educational systems work. I think what we are ultimately interested in is a system that yields an acceptable (or even the best) quality of life. Is this measurement experiment tractable? At best, you're looking at following students along their entire life's journey, rating their quality of life, and comparing reformed education vs. traditional education. Initial results would come in in about 10-20 years, but it would take about a century to really get the full picture.

At the other extreme, we have the good old standardized tests. Test students' proficiency in the "important subjects" and there is instant feedback. The question is whether this instant feedback is meaningful. I think there are some very basic skills (core literacy and basic mathematics) that are required for anyone's quality of life (regardless of vocation). *Proper* standardized testing makes sense here. Beyond that, the definition of essential skills becomes more debatable. One needs to understand the value in mastering trigonometry before determining whether its mastery is a worthwhile goal.

Bhaskar Krishnamachari said...

Thanks, Marc. I've been starting to look into empirical evidence myself, in the form of long-term experimental studies of how well different educational systems work. It's coming up in the next post.