Seems like I’m hitting a creativity theme here of late, but if you have 15 minutes to read this most excellent piece titled “The Educational Value of Creative Disobedience” by Andrea Kuszewski in Scientific American, you won’t regret it. It’s a research based look at why traditional teaching methods suck the creativity out of us and the hard work each of us needs to do to escape the effects as we grow into adulthood. The last paragraph captures the idea and the urgency:
What is supposed to be the most critical learning period for shaping children into the leaders of tomorrow has evolved over the years into a stifling of the creative instinct—wasting the age of imagination—which we then spend the rest of our lives trying to reconnect with. The time has never been more ready for systemic change than right now, and we’ve never had better tools to achieve this level of creative disobedience, to successfully prepare our children for the big challenges that lie ahead. It might be uncomfortable and take a bit of work, but our future depends on this radical change in order to survive.
Let me just add here the effects on creativity of the assessments we currently use are no less of a factor in this. They are what drive our teaching methods, and until we find a path to assessing something other than basic skills and content knowledge, we are assured of deepening the creativity crisis that is already here.
One more quick note of connection. I’m almost done with Eli Pariser’s great new book “The Filter Bubble,” and I hope to be blogging some thoughts on it shortly. But there is deep resonance between his thesis (watch his TED Talk to get the gist) that current search metrics are severely narrowing our access to the world of ideas and this quote from the Kuszewski article:
While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution…it seems that by directly instructing children—giving them the answers to problems, then testing them on memory—we are inhibiting creative problem solving, to quite a significant degree.
In a few words, we are killing creativity on all fronts. And we’re going to have to change the way we teach (as well as, to a large extent, what we teach) if we’re to resuscitate it in our kids.
And, in the end, it’s not just about our kids. We need creative, “problem-finding” teachers in our classrooms as well. How do we get there?