The Value of Creativity

By: Shannon Boatwright

Creativity. It’s the latest theme in education. I’ve studied it and have been given assignments on it in the latest graduate class I’m taking. Just this past week, for professional development in my school district, they had two speakers come speak to all of us teachers in the district. Their main topic? Creativity.

Watch the two short videos below. Seriously, take the time to watch them. You won’t be disappointed.

 

 

Sir Ken Robinson. I can say that this man’s brilliant, heart- and eye-opening words have impacted me on a level that words cannot describe. I am now an official and forever fan of this brilliant man, as his words have helped me to make sense of what I’ve been battling with since teaching in this warped education system. My heart and mind have felt a passion for exactly what he is talking about, I just could never quite put it into words in the eloquent and beautiful way that he has. On one level it fills my heart to have this confirmation that there are people out there that “get it.” Yet on the other hand, my heart aches because I feel the urge to spread this information and somehow figure out how to create a mission to help make this revolution a reality everywhere!

I feverishly took notes as I watched both videos, many times rewinding and listening again, letting Sir Robinson’s words sink in. I’m blown away by the way he has so simply and wisely shared this priceless information. I’ve been so inspired by some of these YouTube TED videos that I can honestly say that I think these videos have changed my life. A bit dramatic, I know. But this issue of recognizing our creative capacities and revolutionizing education away from an industrial model to an agriculture model is a part of my passion, a part of my talents and what I stand for. The thought of all the millions and millions of people in this world enduring what they do for a living, instead of enjoying it, breaks my heart.

The expectations, the wish, the absolute need at hand here is not something schools can do just by “differentiating,” “integrating,” “scaffolding”…. workshops, trainings, blah blah blah, are not the answer here. We need a total revolution. Like Sir Robinson says, we need to transform, not reform. We absolutely have to step away from this linear process and go organic! This is not a change that can effectively be made by throwing a few different teaching tools at teachers. In order for education to actually be effective and our bodies to stop being only a way to transport our heads, and escape this academic inflation that has gotten so out of hand, we have to radically rethink this!

So how can schools meet the expectations, the organic needs in order to infuse creativity back into the equation and keep education from being the industrialized, fast food model that it is? Well, this is where I am at a loss – due to the ridiculous nature of the system now, I feel like we hit a brick wall because the thought process is so ingrained with the higher ups. Very few seem willing to step outside of the current stifling lines. They’ll recognize how great the “concept” is and know in their hearts it’s the answer to making the world of education and the world as a whole a better place, but there are few willing to actually make the positive change happen. This is where I truly don’t know how to make this revolution a reality.

My mind races…. it would take a leader to gather the masses to force this change, to make it a requirement to change. But would any President take this chance? Would the masses come to their senses and support him or her? Would big money get in the way? What needs to happen to make a real revolution in education? I honestly don’t know. It’s going to take enough people taking a stand and insisting on change. At almost every turn at my own school, within my own district, we Arts teachers are given road block after road block. Everyone’s hands are tied, and everyone is overwhelmed and drowning in this fast food model of education. I agree with Sir Robinson completely, it is impoverishing our spirits and energy. I would love to know if Sir Robinson has or knows of a specific plan. I would love to pick his brain and find a solution together, a plan of attack.

For now, awareness is the key and the masses need to see, hear, and realize this killing of creativity that is so present in our education world today.

Here is a little short video I put together that highlights the topic.

 

Please feel free to leave comments here on the blog and share any brilliant ideas on this matter! What does creativity mean to YOU?

2 thoughts on “The Value of Creativity

  1. Hi, Shannon!

    He talks about not being able to be creative if you are afraid of being wrong and how growing up learning to fear failure drives out of us the willingness to try new things. I think he is demonstrably right in everything from education to career choices to our national political conversations. This may explain the disembodiment of our political experience. How we’re perfectly willing to argue (some people, anyway), but not so keen on actually changing things.

    To your blog post, he’s likely right, but there’s little in the way of actionable planning here.

    He said “Human communities depend on a diversity of talents, not a singular conception of ability.” This rings true and it’s certainly pithy enough to carve in stone over the doors of schools. I’m sure each of us, at some point, had that argument with people around us about making sure we study something we can get a job in. Just a job. That’s the goal of education, as he says, but we’re doing ourselves a disservice to leave it at such a narrow definition.

    But what do we do? I don’t work in education and I don’t know the ins and outs of it, so I have only conjecture. It may come down to the insiders banding together to foment rebellion in some form. But, since I don’t want to be afraid of failing here, I’ll “have a go.”

    The solutions that come to my mind look a lot like magnet schools; specialization for kids all the way up until adulthood. Granted, kids are blank slates and you wouldn’t know where to start specializing them, but at some point, proclivities do tend become apparent. And magnet schools and even home schooling are popping up everywhere so maybe the change has already started? Not to take the lazy way out here, but maybe that is the way? I mean, we have schools in LA that only teach drama from kindergarten all the way to high school. Not kidding. They’re STUPID expensive, too. Guess whose kids go there?

    Anyway, before I slip off into a 1%er rant, it’s possible the fast food model of public education is feeling the same heat as fast food industry already. I’d love to see every McSchool start putting apples in the Happy Meals, so to speak. At least the kids could run around during recess, right?

    But since we’re talking about public education, we’re talking about government funding and the requirements that come with taking that money. So we’re talking about a national curriculum change. No Child Left Behind may not have worked as well as intended (and it was the poster child for Robinson’s “Industrial Education model,” which he may have been speaking directly to), but at least we tried something. We weren’t afraid to fail. So, it didn’t work and we stopped it. Great! Maybe this is what we try now?

    The challenge is how to convince politicians who never went to public school that this is a risk worth taking in the face of people who pay them scads of money to make sure the labor forces of their companies (most of the public) work cheap, which means under-educating them and keeping ideas out of their heads (and, therefore, money out of their pockets).

    So, following this line of thinking, it’s who you vote for. We’ll have to vote in people who believe – really believe – in change for the betterment of everyone as opposed to the few. People who understand that when a system is broken, tweaks don’t fix anything. That systems must be disrupted when they don’t work and sometimes be rebuilt from the ground up. For example, PIXAR is famous for doing this when their stories don’t work, no matter how far into production their movies are. You know the results.

    We have to vote for people who aren’t afraid to fail – who will at least try something new. Someone who says “we can” instead of “we can’t” and means everybody when they say “we.” Of course we want to avoid failure, but failure of a task –such as reforming education- is nothing compared to failing to educate a child about the world they will inherit – all aspects of it- and leaving the very system that failed them in place to fail others.

    And failing that way is easy. All we have to do is be short-sighted enough keep the mill running as-is. We can stand back and watch the same talents come out on top while the same talents get trampled and, in that simple negligence, keep right on losing the diversity of community that could keep us all strong and aware of all of life’s possibilities.

    Or we can make a different choice. Who am I to break it all down into something so binary? One thing moving out of a small town into an urban jungle has shown me is that life is far, far, far more complicated than I ever could have imagined where I was, but that doesn’t mean I can track it all. Luckily, it’s a pretty diverse community out here. All sorts of different viewpoints are available.

    And it has certainly been an education.

  2. Rick, I can’t thank you enough for your brilliant response! Such fantastic points! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ll be in touch! 😉

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