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Do schools kill creativity?

(23 Posts)
Runnerbean Wed 17-Sep-08 09:32:36


cory Wed 17-Sep-08 10:09:06

Can't get the video to work on my decrepit machine, but it seems a bit of a general statement, on the lines of "they muck you up, your Mum and your Dad". Hopefully we do not all equally muck our children up, and I imagine it's the same with schools.

Haven't seen any adverse affects in my children. Rather the opposite: school seems to be a place that gets them to think about things that they wouldn't otherwise have thought about and try activities they wouldn't otherwise have tried.

As for the creative stuff- painting, modelling, any arty business- they'd better get it from the school because they're not going to get it from me blush

northernrefugee39 Wed 17-Sep-08 10:16:50

Gosh Runner- thanks for posting that- I've sen it before, but it never ceases to move and amuse me- he is fab.

I agree with much of what he says. Creativity in many schools is the bottom of the heap- a quick after thought of a coloured in photocopy or a felt ready cut out sewing kit. It's a tragedy.

The ones which do have innovative teaching are few, and very lucky.

It's not the school's fault either, government guidelines for primary schools are that "art" can be squeezed into other subjcts and the three r's are of paramount importance.

Uriel Wed 17-Sep-08 10:30:33

Thought-provoking and very, very funny.

Glad I saw it.

jemart Wed 17-Sep-08 20:55:12

I agree with everything he had to say, however I very much doubt it will change anything. When you are told in school "don't bother doing art/music etc, you won't get a job" its because its true!
My parents allowed me to follow my heart and study art and music, despite their own reservations on the matter, I am now forced to conclude that they are correct and I wasted my time.
Creativity is wonderful but not a very practical career choice unless you come from a fairly well off background to begin with.

northernrefugee39 Thu 18-Sep-08 10:55:13

Oh- right jemart- so with such a sweeping statement you mange to dismiss all of us who earn our living as designers, illustrators, writers,the fashion industry, dancers, chefs,musicians, advertising industry, tv, oh - well - won't go on....

Sorry you haven't found a job though.
But the implication being that education should be geared just towards a job.... in something uncreative is.. well...sad, and, imo , unbelieveably misguided.

Like Ken Robsinon, I think that the only time most of us have to be creative, make mistakes etc, is during the very short years of education. Not as autonomons being prepared to make money- although that is important later in education.

The Victorian idea, that education for the masses should be to prepare them for the world of work to fuel the industrial machine and mamon, is rapidly becoming anathema; there aren't the jobs for people in industry any more because the ship yards and factories don't exist in huge numbers any more; China makes it all for us.

I would have thought that by being creative- craft, music, cookery, tv, product design, computer games, service industries,tourism, all rely on creative input, and are the direction education and learning for learning's sake is also important.
There needs to be a balance, which Ken Robinson's talk only emphasises.

jollydo Thu 18-Sep-08 12:04:13

And plenty of people do the 'academic' thing, get the qualifications they're told will get them a good job and still don't end up with it.
Following creative activities can teach children other important skils like self-motivation, confidence (if they're good at them but not so academic), problem solving, trusting and following their own ideas... I am sure there are more things. Being able to think creatively can help in so many areas. (I am not so good at any of these things, having been very focussed on the academic side of school.)

Blu Thu 18-Sep-08 12:18:38

Good grief - IT would have been a cpmplete non-starter without creativity.

I do agree with KR, but then would, I work in theatre and have been involved in many many projects which use the arts in schools and other social settings.

I don't think the tragedy is so much that creativity in the arts is not enhanced / supported, but that creativity is not harnessed in the exploration of other things. The best teachers in anything - and perhaps most effectively - are creative. What he says about intelligence being diverse and dynamic is at the hart of that. You might be very lucky and have a naturally focussed, one-compartmental - mathematical brain, but most of us will be like me: we need to be able to understand maths in ways that engage different parts of our awareness to be able to engage with it. I never had a maths teacher who was able to explin basic maths premises to me in a way that I understood beyond mere 'follow to process by rote to scrape by'. As an adult I have managed to re-visit math with enthusiasm and understanding because I have done the creativ bit in approaching it for myself.

I also believe that the teaching of the National Curriculum squeezes ou the importance of 'trying it out' - what he says about being frightened of being wrong, and stigmatising mistakes.

My organisation works with thousands of young people a year. A few turn out to have exceptiona talent that carries them straight into an artistic and creative future.

MORE have their view of the world - and their own relationship with their ability to learn and develop - transformed because engagement with drama, photography, writing stimulates a new ability to understand ALL the aspects of their lives and education.

Litchick Thu 18-Sep-08 12:51:18

I firmly believe that the NC is counter creativity - but when, on another thread, I said I would do anything to avoid sending my children to a school that adheres to it I was called 'nuts'.

Blu Thu 18-Sep-08 13:03:18

I HATE the National Curriculum, it's bloody prescriptive worksheets, and the requirements on tachers that go with it.

I have a friend who has been a first class primary teacher for 20 years. She is now leaving teaching to become a nursery assistant on less than half the pay because she can no longer bear having to read a wonderful, heart-lifting story written by a 6 year-old, and instead of commenting on the wonderfulness of the story she is required to write an 'objective' documentation as to whether the object of learning was understood, achieved etc. And spending all her time completing paperwork, while teaching from pre-prepared sheets.

The National Curriculum does discount the creativity of teachers, and the importance of the creativity that good teachers can bring to their work.

TeenyTinyTorya Thu 18-Sep-08 13:07:13

100% yes. I used to hate working in a school, and helping the kids to produce 30 identical easter-egg paintings, or snowflakes, or whatever. There may well be some wonderful schools who don't use pre-packaged curriculi with worksheets, and who don't have the photocopier as their best friend, but I haven't been in one unfortunately.

cory Thu 18-Sep-08 13:15:03

Blu on Thu 18-Sep-08 12:18:38

"I never had a maths teacher who was able to explin basic maths premises to me in a way that I understood beyond mere 'follow to process by rote to scrape by'. As an adult I have managed to re-visit math with enthusiasm and understanding because I have done the creativ bit in approaching it for myself."

Dd was fortunate enough to have a maths teacher like this last year. Her SATS revision (!) was one of the most intellectually exciting experiences she has had. Which shows that it's not the National Curriculum as such that has spoiled creativity. At least not for everybody. An enthusiastic and creative teacher can still do wonders.

I remember the days before the NC was introduced. Particularly a conversation which my Dad (a foreign teacher from a country which already had an NC) had with some English teachers. They told him quite frankly that the pupils they had were too dumb to learn the subject in question, so they just talked to them about their holidays instead. I am glad my dc's will not be taught by anyone with that attitude. If the SATS tests and Offsted have achieved that, then I'm happy.

People forget that it was just as easy for children to slip through the system before the NC- and that England did very badly in literacy and maths compared to other countries. Anyone read Kes? Barry Hines was a teacher under the old system, remember. Billy in Kes hardly has his creativity encouraged at school. All that happens is that his teachers (barring one) can't be bothered to try to teach the bottom set anything because they've decided they're hopeless.

The reason why the National Curriculum was introduced was that there were far too many Billys around. That and the desire to do away with the postcode lottery. Alright so it hasn't- but are we sure it wouldn't be worse without a national curriculum?

I am not saying everything is perfect about the current system; it's the difficulty of finding a system that both encourages creativity and yet makes sure that all children have the same chance of acquiring basic skills. Which isn't going to happen if a teacher is allowed to decide that his set are too dumb to learn them anyway.

yellowvan Thu 18-Sep-08 13:23:57

They do exist though, really they do, Teeny. There is a move I think away from the death by worksheet approach to the NC and towards creartivity and making connections in the way that Blu describes, and towards much more talk, discussion , lateral thinking and child led learning in schools. well there is in th ones I go to anyway, (supply T, so workined in a fair few over the years) and that's certainly how I try to work. Havent seen clip in op I admit, but just wanted to counter the idea that all schools are souless and stifling and still work on the "transmit knowledge" model.

northernrefugee39 Thu 18-Sep-08 13:34:40

Well said Blu- what great posts.
I too have worked with kids within and outside schools, who are so starved of creativity, it was wonderful to see their response to thinking outside the box and being given some freedom.
But there was also a lot of "Miss, are we allowed to do...?" which, for me anyway, speaks volumes.
cory- I agree with much of what you say- and the way bad teaching used to be without benchmarks.
BUT- I have a friend who has done recent fast track teaching as a career change in ... middle'ish age. She spends hours and hours preparing for classes - lesson plans following the guidelines etc; with some of her kids she says it's a total waste of time...they won't or can't do the work, because further down the line, they never caught up. She does maths by making flap jacks with them, (they don't eat breakfast) and goes right back to the basics. There are still schools around who are miserably failing the poorest in society, national curriculum or not. Why not at least enrich their education with creative and forward tninking skills, rather than what canseem deadening.

Litchick Thu 18-Sep-08 13:44:04

Cory, I accept of course that something had to be done. I, like many on here, was educated in the wasteland of an eighties comp. Dreadful standards.
I accept also that schools ought to have a baseline of what puils need to know. But it's become far too prescriptive. Not only are teachers told what, how and when kids are to learn, there is so little flexibility.
Since HE'd kids and kids in indie schools do so well surely there's a lesson here about how dogmatic the NC needs to be.

Blu Thu 18-Sep-08 14:11:53

Oh, I know there are inspired and inspiring teachers out there - and all power to their elbows! Time to look at what they do and hold their practice up for examination and replication.

The thing about the NC catching those who slipped through the net in the past, is that somany more children could do even better if teaching was more inclusive of different learning styles...we work with about 60 children from PRUs (pupil referral units) each year - they have, to a certain extent, slipped through the net and could have been caught sooner - or not slipped at all, had thier wider talnts and interests been tapped in the learning process. Once they are eabled to learn - rather then being taught, many of them are transformed. Not by my oufit alone - teachers in PRUs often have the freedom to be more flexible.

My DS does go to a community primary and in general I am very happy with what he does there....I wish they were less SATS driven, and had more top quality arts experiences instead of some of the dodgy and mediocre commercial companies that peddle projects for arts week etc. But then I know I am doing my best to provoke the Other Way at home!

nix66 Thu 18-Sep-08 14:13:08

Hi all... am not new but I don't post often , but I do lurk a lot blush.

IMO "Creativity" isn't "taught" everyone is creative be it with a paintbrush, a camera a computer mouse, a pencil, a poem or dancing and all the other creative professions that northernrefugee39 listed above. I found KR to be insightful, and spot on in his conclusions but I have now reached my own conclusion that we as parents need to nurture our own kids creativity. If your child loves to dance.. dance with them, if they love painting, paint with them, if they love juggling be it numbers or balls then encourage and support them.

There are enough self taught artists designers,sport stars and musicians out there to prove that formal education isn't everything it's cracked up to be.

I am a Graphic Designer, I LOVE anything arty and have done since I was very young, I always had paper and pencils available as a child and I make sure that they are available for my kids too, but if my dd came home saying she wanted to be a dancer or professional footballer then I would do all that I could to support her..

Sorry if that seems a bit long winded...grin

An interesting thread Runnerbean!

HuwEdwards Thu 18-Sep-08 15:01:04

I help out in our primary school and one day was asked to supervise the completion of a worksheet.

The kids LOVED it - easiest 2 hours ever.

I mentioned it to the teacher and she said 'Yes, they would love it, we rarely use them, so they're a novelty'.

Our school has a working relationship with a group called Creative Partnerships, so creativity plays a huge part in their schooling - much to the angst of some parents....

singersgirl Thu 18-Sep-08 19:52:28

One reason that our primary school is great is that on Fridays in KS2 they have a 'non-curriculum' day. They do cover all their statutory curriculum requirements for music, modern foreign language (in Y6) and some of the sports requirement on Friday, but they also have loads of workshops with staff, parents and other volunteers. They've done drama, long stories that they put into books with covers they design, pottery, sewing, puppetry, music workshops, dance, all sorts of other crafts....They have a great time and it's their favourite day.

TeenyTinyTorya Thu 18-Sep-08 23:05:56

I know they're not all like that - I'm married to a teacher, and he certainly isn't like that. But the schools near me use a maths programme with worksheets, a reading programme with worksheets, and it's all so prescriptive, you move through it in stages all at the same pace, a certain page on a certain day - blech!

mrz Sat 20-Sep-08 12:29:32

Schools don't kill creativity but all the testing and measuring schools are required to do by law does.

Blandmum Sat 20-Sep-08 12:42:53

I think that parents also have to be careful not to think that what they see in their child's book is all that was done on a topic. I do use worksheets a summarry or plenary activities, they are a quick way of leeting be check understanding.

But in the lesson that precceds the work sheet we will have done a wide range of activities, experiment, role play, poetry writing (and I'm a science teacher), games, posters....all sorts of different things.

parents looking at my year 12 books will think that the students have filled in two grids of information over the last three lessons.

What they don't see are the microscope work, the animations that we have used to simulate the indside of cells, the junk models of cells that they have made me, and the role play that showed the production and export of proteins from a pancreatic cell! All very creative!

But look at their books and they will see two grids of information

wheresthehamster Sat 20-Sep-08 12:43:34

Working in a school that I think is fab I can't speak for others BUT do agree with nix that creativity is something that should be made time for at home where time and assessment constraints are not a problem.

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