Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Education system: Is our creativity suppressed?

The education system is suppressing our creativity. A bold statement? Maybe...but allow me to explain in the only way I can think how. Here is an example: My little brother, now 8 years old, just moved with my parents from Sierra Vista, Arizona to San Diego, California. A couple years ago, elementary schools in Arizona took out classes relating to P.E., music and art. I just found out that my brother is enrolled in a school where the teacher decides if they want to spend their time teaching any one of these subjects. So now, because most teachers were not trained to teach music or art, my brother’s education is limited to academics with no emphasis on the arts. In my opinion, without the arts, the voices that drive creative intellect are lost, because they are not being practiced!

Recalling my childhood, the fondest memories I have of school were not all related to the academic learning, but to the more ‘creative learning,’ which I am partial to. I remember my 7th grade English teacher, Ms. Winfield. Perhaps considered a little unethical in her method of teaching, I felt that her teaching style is what directed me to love the language arts.

Ms. Winfield’s class was designed in such a way that the students had the opportunity to develop their own grades. By this, she gave lists of tasks we could do to get an ‘A’ in her class. These tasks included writing poetry, reading books and giving book reports, compiling an English journal, etc. She would teach us grammar, vocabulary, etc., and we would dissect the language of the classics. She gave us full poetic license that allowed us to write without feeling inhibited by the rules she taught of grammar or sentence structure. She would educate us on the proper way of writing after we finished our work, but would not doc points from our grade, unless there was a bizarre spelling mistake. She made me discover how much I loved to write…something I continue to love.

I had other teachers who were so particular about how we would write. During those class periods, I felt like I was being chained to a desk. I felt the creativity stop seeping out of my fingers, and my writing became dull and often void.

It wasn’t until my opinion writing class in college, that I actually enjoyed writing again. Nancy Williams, my college professor, would ask us to write 10 minutes during each class period non-stop. The trick to this method of writing was that we were not allowed to go back and correct spelling, restructure our sentences or edit anything in our text. We just had to write. The rest of the class was spent on editing our writing. This exercise allowed us to get that internal editor out of our heads-the internal editor that had been placed there in our youth that never allowed us to come up with some brilliant pieces of work.

I had a friend send me this link today that I am so excited to share! I borrowed this intro from the site: Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize -- much less cultivate -- the talents of many brilliant people.

Here is Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?



Brenden & Nikki said...

so so true! What good memories...I never had Ms. Winfield, but I remember her classroom and I can totally agree that she inspired creativity. Since I studied English in college too, there are definitely a list of teachers that I can remember making a huge impact on my idea of literature and the fun you can have with words. My favorite teachers/professors were always the people who encouraged the creative thought rather than focusing on the grammatical structure. And how would I have possibly survived school without the arts?! Jeesh, what's the school system coming to!?

I love your blogs Linds....much more thought provoking than some of the other jibber jabber that we throw out there! :)

Garet and Amanda said...

Wow! It is so good to hear from you. I finally have some time to make comments on others blogs. Garet and I created the blog only to have our internet go down...and we haven't ever hooked up the connection again. So most of the stuff on our blog Garet has done. Well it looks like things are going great for you. I love reading all your posts! love ya- amanda

only in sleep do dreams live... said...

hello..wonder if you remember me but you commented on one of my posts...and this post of yours is incredibly true. i hate how teachers grade us on things that seem, to me at least, to be stylistic and personal flare. i myself love creative writing..which is what i wanna teach in the near future..and well, how boring would school be without its creative sides...really..

well, hope you have a good new year..take care!