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Education is killing creativity

shelbyhannan44 1 / -  
Sep 26, 2014   #1
Shelby Hannan
Tamilyn Gee
English 102 Rough Draft

Is education harming creativity?

The structures in classrooms have taken major turns through out the years, and stripping creativity from children has unfortunately been a part of the many changes. Children are quite possibly one of the greatest resources for creativity. While growing up, children are taught vast amounts of information: the fundamentals of whats's morally correct in society, and academics in school. As being creative with morals in society, things could get taken quite too far and result in extremely problematic occurrences. However, when it comes to academics, there needs to be some room left open for new ideas. The people in charge of academics are the most prominent leaders to children, parents and educators, need to be aware of the importance of creativity. To promote the need for creativity in childhood education, parents and teachers need to understand what creativity really is, how creativity is so important inside and outside of the classroom at such a young age, and how enforcing creative learning at a younger age will affect these children later on in life.

The first idea that many do not understand, is what creativity really is. Many people write creativity off as something that is only important to artists. Creativity is so much more than just "thinking outside of the box" As merriam webster dictionary states, creativity is defined as "the ability to make new things or think of new ideas". As plain and simple as this definition seems, it is much beyond "new". I once heard the saying, "when the world is ending, creative people will be the last ones standing" This is something that has stuck with me and my passion for advocating this. I once asked one of my dance professors what a creative person meant to her, and she explained, "a creative person is someone that can ignore all else, reach within themselves, and listen to only the thoughts that so freely come from themselves, disregarding outside sources". From first hand experience, I have whitenessed this with many of the artists in my school. Creative people are leaders. They rely on what they feel as a guide in life. This attribute is stripped from children at early ages in elementary school when they are consistently told what is right and wrong, how they should act, and in extremes, who they should be.

Before delving into the importance of implementing creative thinking in childhood education, it is important to know what creativity truly means. Creativity has so much to do with the way one thinks as a child. Creativity changes through out the years, and for some, gets lost amongst the haze of insecurity brought upon by "being wrong". As stated by Dr Rosa Chavez, "Creativity means bringing into being; it involves the generation of new things or ideas or the transformation of those previously existing" (Dr, Rosa Chavez in school of education at John Hopkins University). To create something new is incredible, but to even just be able to analyze something differently and form an individual opinion or idea of something is a fantastic skill to hold. What educators do not realize, is that children who's ideas are turned down, even if seemingly ridiculous, truly affects what they choose to think about in the future. Children are the breeding grounds of creative minds. This is because children are not yet afraid of being wrong, or failing. There is something so rejuvenating about having absolutely no limits to the mind. Children have this because they are still naïve.

Creativity is more than just expansive thinking, it involves the ability to bring one's own experiences to a subject and give something dull or "permanent" another twist. As stated by Dunlop in her article, "All humans have the potential and ability to be creative, and we do ourselves a disservice when we refer to individuals such as Mozart and Einstein as the defining examples of creativity to which we should all strive to emulate" (Tarsi Dunlop in the paradox of creativity in education). The key point in this is that all humans have potential. The potential is held in children. Whether that potential is carried through is something that is in the hands of educators and parents. Creativity is freedom of mind. In schools, this idea is left behind. As stated in the article, creative people are not just people like mozart and Einstein, but creativity is something held within everyone. It is what we chose to do with it, and it is what we are taught when we are young that affects what we chose to do with it.

There are so many explanations and revelations about creativity. Simply thinking about the word and its definition allows for creative thinking. Stated on the Education Scotland website is yet another definition from educators, "It is a way of thinking in which we look at familiar things with a fresh eye, examine a problem with an open mind about how it might be solved, and use our imagination rather than our knowledge to explore new possibilities rather than established approaches" (Education Scotland Creative approaches to learning). So in this instance, creative thinking means taking previous knowledge and turning it into something. For example it may seem very difficult to get creative with history. History is very straight forward because there are not possibilities considering it already happened. There are however many ways one could analyze it and compare it to present day, or their own life. In this example, without creativity, a student would take in the information and repeat it without a process of discovering. This "take in the information and repeat it" idea is common in dance as well. In dance it is easy for the dancers to watch choreography, learn the steps, learn the counts, and then replicate it. However there are details and changes in movement variations that make the dance what it is. This is the same with learning things in school as a young child. Without their own input, the knowledge could almost seem pointless due to the fact that it does not have a personal meaning to them.

"Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others" (Robert E. Franken from California State University, Northridge) Problem solving is quite possibly the most useful aspect of creativity. We problem solve every single day without even realizing it. Problem solving is also a skill taught in elementary education. Some children really progress with this skill and take it to the next level by getting creative with their thoughts. Some people grow up to only be able to solve simple and less complex problems. The people that are wonderful at problem solving are often leaders. For example, the president of the United States. He deals with major problematic situations every day. If he was only able to solve problems based on previous knowledge or what has happened in the past, our entire country would be in a serious problematic situation. He has to come up with his own ideas and his own solutions to help our country. Creative people are leaders. Creative people are the ones with answers and solutions.

It can get repetitive to hear how important creativity is in childhood, and in general so it's also important to understand why and how. One can assume that it is important by the emphasis I place on the positives of what it is. As stated in a blog written by Angela Eckhoff, "During early childhood, young children are not just building a foundation for later learning, they are learning and experiencing their world in the present moment. Therefore, the experiences of the present moment must serve to inspire children to question, explore, and wonder" (Angela Eckhoff in the Whole Child blog).This explains the emphasis on how this is important to students in the long run. Children discover their learning styles at a young age. If they are learning in the present moment, they need to be able to reflect upon that later in life. A part of being creative is taking knowledge and carrying it into wisdom. Children cannot simply learn a fact and just remember it if it does not have a significance to them. It is important to be able to actually absorb the knowledge. Creative thinking and going beyond the fact, and questioning why it is that way is so crucial of learning. To be able to go beyond creativity is a necessity.

Since the lack of understanding the importance is so prominent, the spread of understanding would help dramatically in promoting creative learning. Parents and educators still do not seem to recognize the real meaning of importance. As stated in early childhood news, "Teachers who respect children's ideas help them learn to think and solve problems for themselves. Children who feel free to make mistakes and to explore and experiment will also feel free to invent, create, and find new ways to do things" (Early Childhood News). Teachers that are able to listen, and listen not only for the "right answers" but listen to what their students are saying and help them develop a further thought are the teachers breeding expansive thinking. It seems absurd that teachers or parents would be so quick to turn down a child's thought. As there are no intentions of making parents and educators guilty of the loss for this, it is the first direction looked upon when solving this problem of lack. Society is nearly to blame for this. The people in our society are known as "go getters". Everyone moves quickly, and wants things done and over with. We see this in education in students that just want learning to be over. They want that A, but most do not understand or stop to take the time to understand why. Slowing down to actually move through the learning process can aid in creative thinking. Students in today's society are almost forced to learn, and move through things quickly, and just keep moving through until they are done. This sort of push or rush can cause students to look directly for the answers rather than doing some outside thinking.

To jump to the conclusion that children that learn creative thinking will automatically be successful is a bit drastic. In a blog by Dunlop this was stated, "According to James Kaufman, a psychologist and researcher at the University of Connecticut who presented last week at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills Summit, creative people are more likely to get promoted, be satisfied with their jobs, be in better physical health and be more resilient" (Tarsi Dunlop in the paradox of creativity in education). This is what every parent wants for their children, and this is what all educators strive to accomplish with their students. As easy as that sounds it is not. Creativity is not something that is necessarily taught. Creativity is something everyone is born with and something many lose in early education. This is why it is so important for educators and teachers to slow down. The rush to learn is absurd. College students know that cramming the night before an exam does not work, so why would educators think that moving through the lessons so quickly to reach the requirements be a good idea? Learning takes time, creativity is a process, and being a creative person will not always guarantee that promotion later in life, but it will guarantee that you can come up with a way to get it, and that you wlll not be discouraged when you present the "wrong answer".

On the opposing side of things, there are still many people in today's society that believe creativity is completely unnecessary. For example in The Harvard Business review, Often, the worst thing a company can do, in Levitt's view, is put innovation into the hands of "creative types"-those compulsive idea generators whose distaste for the mundane realities of organizational life renders them incapable of executing any real project (Levitt). This statement is very strong, and nearly ignorant. In the world of business, creativity is looked down upon by the "middle class workers" because they are too busy to be creative. Everything is so structured and functions in a certain way, that changing anything would be uncalled for. These types of workers are comparable to the scared child in class that will not raise their hand because they do not want to have the wrong answer. However, the people in the business world that are on the top of the chain of commands, were the children in school that were okay with having the wrong answers and proceeded forward with their journey to success by failing and learning from their failures. So this statement is not completely true. Everything stems from creativity.

This brings the subject back to enforcement of creativity in younger ages will dramatically affect the way a child choses to live their lives in the future. In life, people are expected to have the answers, and have the knowledge. What if instead of asking for the answers, people starting asking children to create the answers? Children go into school with the mindset that they need to know. Being of all knowing is bland, and dry. It lacks the mysteries that life holds. If children were expected to create their own answers and learn more from themselves than out of the book, there would be incredible changes in the way education is looked at. As Wilson states, "Thus, many children go through childhood learning only about competition, rules, control, and conformity, and little about the joy of exploration, innovation, and discovery as these elements pertain to acts of creation"(Leslie Owen Wilson in Killing or fostering creativity). Conformity is a great key aspect of this statement. Conformity is what is happening in education. Children learn the information they need and then repeat it without a thought about how this is important to them. When children grow up, and start applying to colleges, jobs, and have families and find their passions, they need to know why. In the early years if they are taught to just go along with everything, that's what they will do their whole lives. This roots deeper than just getting jobs, but this all ties into figuring out who you truly are as a person and what you value. For example, if a person is raised catholic but they never understand why their family is catholic and they just go along with it, is that person truly connected with their beliefs? The same goes for education.

Creative individuals lead a life of freedom, and are able to learn from failures and keep moving forward on the road to success. As stated, "It is important to keep in mind that a child's test score is not a direct connection to who they are or who they will become as a learner" (Angela Eckhoff in the Whole Child Blog). Creative thinking is not just a potential in the classroom, but every other experience children go through is a chance with the creative process. Children have a number of first times, and if every first time was impacted by another's thought or belief it will alter their own beliefs. A major part of this creative process is being able to stick to independent thinking. Children who think independently grow up to be independent individuals. This ties back to the idea that creative people are leaders. Leaders are almost always in some type of significant role in the work force, and just in life in general. The people that

Creative people are if anything, confident. Confident individuals trust their own ideas. When growing up and experiencing the education system, children are told to be confident, but not necessarily shown how. When told they have the wrong answers or the wrong ideas, it puts a stint in their confidence and willingness to explore. "Highly creative individuals display exploratory behavior when encountering novelty, are optimistic, tolerant of uncertainty, pursue their goals with intensity,; display responsibility, are directed to their goals, are able to utilize resources, are self accepting and congruent..." (Dr. Rosa Chavez in school of education at John Hopkins University). When children are rejected creativity, it hurts their goals as well. No one wants to hear the words "you can't do it" and being a part of such a structured school environment is quite similar to that.

In my own personal research at school, I have found that creative people are the most inspiring. It takes a brain to memorize a math equation, but it takes a person to be creative. While speaking with some of my professors about their thoughts on the subject, they claimed that they had never failed to wonder. Being curious is the root of learning, it's the root of knowledge. Failing to wonder will result in answers you don't care about. My professor also claimed to believe that all of the experiences she had went through as a child both fostered and harmed her creativity. She claimed that it wasn't until college that she truly found what it meant to be creative. Being this is not easy, especially when growing up in a traditional school setting.

Creativity is something I value because of the foundation it holds on individuals. I will continue my research to promote this in childhood education. Children are the foundations of the earth, and they are building their own foundations in school. Creativity is something that needs to be more recognized for what it is, why it is important and why being creative will affect their whole life. Once creativity has stuck, it is a trait that will never be lost. So before it's too late, educate our children in the best ways by allowing this skill of creativity to take hold of their futures.

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