Do schools kill creativity?

One could argue, I suppose, that this talk by Sir Ken Robinson is the most important video clip on the internet. (running time, 20 min. — or watch a condensed 8-minute version.)

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original… [Yet] we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities.

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 service.

2 thoughts on “Do schools kill creativity?”

  1. Let’s not answer this question with knee-jerk reactions to testing versus creativity. It is a false choice. One can exist with the other. The issue is balance.
    In order to determine if taking practice tests is a “good thing,” we should ask three questions: 1) Are the tests (practice and “real”) measuring important information?; 2) Are the practice tests aligned with the “real” test?; 3) Are the tests replacing initial instruction and/or transfer activities?.
    Here is what we know:
    1. Yes. DC academic standards and tests are based on MA standards and tests which are the best in the country.
    2. Yes. The practice tests used this year in DC covered the same content and simulated the real thing. Practice tests also provided students/teachers with information about areas of accomplishment and places that need improvement. So that teachers could go back and fine-tune instruction. Yet, we should keep in mind, that not all practice tests are well designed. It is a buyer beware market.
    3. Practice tests shouldn’t take the place of initial instruction or be considered the final component of an instructional set. For the sake of discussion, let’s say we look at learning in four phases: acquisition, retention, generalization, and transfer. Testing, whether practice or final, usually occurs during the retention and generalization phases. We want to see if the student knows the info and whether the student can use the info in novel ways. Well designed tests measure these features of learning. At the same time, the test should not be considered the final piece of the learning puzzle. There should be some sort of “transfer” activity that is required so that students can demonstrate that they can “bring-it-all-together” and apply their knowledge. Perhaps because the transfer phase is often left-out, muddled, idolized, confused with needing lots of time and doing “projects”, the middle phases of learning–where testing often occur– is getting a bad name.
    If we keep learning as our goal and testing in this perspective, then the question about giving practice tests is no longer the question of good or bad. Instead we elevate the conversation to the three questions of quality.

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