Creativity – Educated Out of Us?

Devoted to ‘Ideas Worth Spreading’, TED is a nonprofit organisation that unites creative thinkers from three unique worlds: Technology, Entertainment and Design. “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. So we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other…” And it’s working, references to TED talks are taking over social media, university classes and even the office…

Have we been educated to be good workers as opposed to creative thinkers? Creative expert, Sir Ken Robinson says yes, yes we have. Why aren’t the arts as supported and valued as science and mathematics in the education industry? Why is it that the creative fields are at the bottom of the ‘learning hierarchy’? The video below touches on numerous examples of how the creative industry is undermined by our education from an early age.

[quote]I believe this passionately: that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it.”[/quote]

Here’s our response:

In Australia, we only need to look into our backyard to see how true this is. In N.S.W.’s Higher School Certificate (the qualification you need in order to attend university), subjects are ‘scaled’ according to how valuable/’difficult’ they are, in order to determine an averaged score for each pupil upon completion. Subjects such as dance, visual arts, visual design, music and drama are all ‘scaled down’ whereas physics, chemistry, and mathematics are all ‘scaled up’. This means that a student, who achieves 60% in their chemistry exam, can end up with a better overall result than a student who has achieved 80% in their music exam. Naturally, pupils knowing this, decide to opt for subjects that are considered more valuable, therefore their talents in more creative fields are being thwarted, or as Robinson says, “educated out of them”. Hundreds of creatively talented people are now out there, thinking that they are not because their schooling years discouraged them and undervalued their talents. Sadly, more and more young people are finding that this is often reflected in the professional world as well.

Robinson also touches on the “process of academic inflation”, which many young creatives, including writers are falling prone to today. Throughout our early education, we were told than in order to get a job, we needed a degree, in order to get a degree, we needed a HSC score that would get us into a decent university course, and in order to do that, we had to choose the more conventional subjects as discussed above. Only now, we are discovering that:

a) People are able to attain great positions without a tertiary education and,

b) As Robinson discusses, a position that once required a Bachelor degree, now requires a Masters or a PHD.

It often seems that creatively driven people are in a lose-lose position. The sad truth is that “very many people go through their whole lives having no real sense of what their talents may be, or if they have any to speak of,” and this is undoubtedly due to the lack of support for the creative people in the education system, as well as the professional world later in life.

Robinson’s short talk is an insightful and witty look at the discouragement of creativity throughout some of the most influential years of a person’s life. For writers, dancers, musicians, artists and all creative thinkers alike, this video is a must-watch.

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Writer's Edit

Writer’s Edit is a young online literary magazine created especially for writers and lovers of books. Founded in July 2013, the magazine is home to writing and book-related news, as well as advice and inspiration for emerging authors. Writer's Edit also publishes the anthology Kindling. To find out more, click here.

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