Does school education discourage creativity and innovation
By Karen Bonanno
Sir Ken Robinson, an international leader in the development of creativity and innovation, was in Australia in June 2009 and was interviewed on ABC Radio National Life Matters
He says the school system often discourages creativity by favouring academic measurement. The focus on testing tends to equate academic ability with intelligence and does not recognise the diversity of human intelligence. Everyone has the ability to be creative and innovative, but the education system is based on a “manufacturing paradigm.”
Robinson believes that being in the element means you are doing something for which you have a natural aptitude and that you love the thing you are good at.
In his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Robinson states there is a preoccupation with certain sorts of academic ability…hierarchy of subjects…and the growing reliance on particular types of assessment. His argument is this is stifling the powers of creative thinking.
Being in the element, according to Robinson, means there is a mix of aptitude, passion, attitude and opportunity.
There are enlightening stories captured in his book about successful people who were marginalised at school yet found their element – Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac, Matt Groening the creator of The Simpsons, Sir Ridley Scott an award-winning director, Meg Ryan the actor, and the mobile telephone salesman and Britain’s Got Talent sensation, Paul Potts.
If ever Robinson writes a sequel, I’m sure the next Britain’s Got Talent sensation, Susan Boyle, would certainly feature. The YouTube videos of her audition were amongst the top 5 videos watched in 2009 and her debut album, I Dreamed A Dream, was No. 1 globally. Her biography indicates learning difficulties as a child, being bullied and carrying the nickname of “Susie Simple”.
Robinson states that the education systems need to “recognise the multiplicity of talent, the individuality of talent and the importance of developing that for reasons of personal fulfilment and economic security.”
I wonder how the curriculum designers are going to accommodate innovation and creativity in the development of curriculum programs so that our young people will have the attitude and opportunity to bring together their natural aptitude and passion. We are now beyond best practice. The catch cry needs to be new practice.
Which brings me to consider the text, Guided Inquiry: Learning in the 21st Century by Carol C. Kuhlthau, Lesley K Maniotes and Ann K. Caspari. The new practice that stands out for me in this work is the reference to the third space. To put this in context I will include this quote from the book – “The child’s world may be thought of as first space and the curriculum of the school second place. Third space is where the two come together in a meaningful way and where deep learning takes place” (2007, p. 26).
The six principles of the Guided Inquiry approach reflect Robinson’s aspirations:
- Children learn by being actively engaged in and reflecting on an experience.
- Children learn by building on what they already know.
- Children develop higher-order thinking through guidance at critical points in the learning process.
- Children have different ways and modes of learning.
- Children learn through social interaction with others.
- Children learn through instruction and experience in accord with their cognitive development.
(2007, pp. 24-28).
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