Do Our Schools Kill Creativity? Enhancing Imagination, the Hope?

Video reproduced by permission of

This is an excellent video by Sir Ken Robinson, an engaging speaker, about how schools kill our creativity featured at a TED conference. This video is not just for parents or grandparents of school age children. It is for all us who felt our own creativity is or was hindered by our education. I promise you Robinson is very entertaining and peppers his lecture with funny stories especially about Shakespeare as a child.  (Yes, believe it or not, he was a child.)

The most poignant part of the video for me was the discussion of ADD. I was diagnosed as a child and took Dexedrine until I was in sixth grade.  I don’t fault my parents because without it I would not have been able to learn in the conventional educational framework. I could not read. My ADD may have been compounded by a learning disability (dyslexia) which my children swear that I have.  (Don’t ever ask me my right from my left.) I passed my learning issues down to my children, and they subsequently had problems learning how to read and two of them have ADD. 

As Robinson spoke about Gillian Lynne , the famous choreographer of CATS and Phantom of the Opera, who would have been diagnosed with ADHD if she was a child today,  tears welded up in my eyes because I am struggling with one of my children who does not feel that learning is important and does not apply himself. I think that it is just too hard for him to focus.  Unfortunately, he can not receive help in the public school system because they say thathis disability does not impact him enough to warrant intervention.   Tutoring does not seem to help as well.

As for Gillian Lynne, according to Robinson, luckily, a doctor recognized that she was a dancer. She needed to move to think.   She went on to become a renowned choreographer, gave the world immense pleasure through her choreography, and to boot became a multi-millionaire.  The lesson from his statement is that children all learn differently and we should be embracing this and not hindering it.   Imagination is our biggest gift and we should be celebrating it.

Robinson further explores the ideas that we should be looking at human ecology in the ways we are in regards to our own environment.  The way we strip the land in mining for precious metals is the same way we teach our children, trying to make them conform to a prescribed way of teaching.  Many schools are trying to bridge this gap between emotional intelligence and academic intelligence.

I am a firm believer of multi-sensory education and there are different ways that children learn. Thematic learning across curriculum is a wonderful method. Incorporating what children learn in their core classes through art, music and dance enhances their learning experience. I love the Core Knowledge Series by E.D. Hirsch.  It is a set of books for each grade on enriching education through literary experiences.

TED features a multitude of captivating speakers for you to learn from.   Their mission is to give knowledge seekers access to some of the greatest teachers and thinkers of our world.  The organization holds an annual four day conference in California  featuring fifty speakers, each taking an 18- minute slot regarding global, science, and business issues facing our world.  The videos are featured free on the website. Their videos are great teaching tools for both corporate, home use, and educational purposes. I would encourage you to explore their website.

Let me know your thoughts about the video and/or our public educational system.  What would you like to see changed?

Do you have children that are not embracing the current educational framework? Do you have any success stories?

Thanks to Grow-12 for this tip.

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    Loved your post. My oldest (almost 6) does not have an ADHD diagnosis but it wouldn’t surprise me if he ultimately ended up with one. He does receive OT. He is extremely artistic – creating the most amazing drawings, reveling in ceramics and being immediately calmed with music. He goes to a charter school that is very accepting of learning differences. I get so frustrated when professionals urge us to put him in a regular school where he can sit still in a desk 6 hours a day and try to learn. He just doesn’t learn that way!

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    Thank you for this I also like the TED videos including the Larry Smith using reverse psychology in his video he dislodges the anxiety and irrational thoughts that occur when thinking of doing a creative career. I too had problems with the education system I have finally found out at 19 and going through years of school and college hell that I might have suspected Aspergers which would explain a lot. Even though it was at least I still got B’s at GCSE.
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