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Briefly: Do school kill creativity? Ken Robinson | TED2006

Ken Robinson · Author/educator

I have an interest in education.

The issue of education is considered tactless, too personal. Like religion, and money and other things. We have a huge vested interest in it, partly because it’s education that’s meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp. Nobody has a clue, what the world will look like in five years’ time.  And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary.

02:24 Сhildren have really extraordinary capacities – their capacities for innovation. All kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.

02:57  My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. 

If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong.
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes.
And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

06:06  So why is this?

08:28 Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn’t matter where you go. At the top are: 

  • mathematics;
  • languages;
  • humanities;
  • at the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth.

And in pretty much every system too, there’s a hierarchy within the arts. 

  • art and music are normally given a higher status in schools
  • than drama and dance.

There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. I think this is rather important.

09:14 I think the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors.

11:03 Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability.  And there’s a reason. Around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism.

So the hierarchy is rooted in two ideas:

  1.  that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice – now, profoundly mistaken.
  2. academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence because the universities designed the system in their image.

The whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance.

And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.

12:24 Degrees aren’t worth anything.

40 лет назад, если у тебя был диплом, у тебя была работа, а если работы не было, то лишь потому, что тебе не хотелось работать.

Сейчас же студенты сразу после выпуска идут обратно домой играть в видеоигры, ведь там, где раньше хватало бакалавра, теперь требуют магистра, а на его место нужен кандидат наук.

Эта инфляция образования — признак того, что вся образовательная структура рушится у нас под ногами. Мы должны переосмыслить своё представление о разуме.

12:57 We know three things about intelligence:

1. It’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think: we 

  • visually;
  • in sound;
  • kinesthetically.

We think in abstract terms, we think in movement.

2.  intelligence is dynamic, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments.  

In fact, creativity – which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.

3. intelligence is distinct.

I believe our only hope for the future is – to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity.

Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity.

And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children. 

What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we’ve talked about.

And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. And our job is to help them make something of it.


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