Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TED Talk Tuesday: Ken Robinson says Schools Kill Creativity

Today's TED Talk Tuesday by Sir Ken Robinson is easily one of my favorite TED Talks.  It is witty, insightful and focuses on rethinking education to nurture rather than stifle creativity.  He believes that creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.

During one of my summer semesters at college, I worked as a teacher's assistant at a preschool and also took a 5-credit hour intensive Chinese language class.  It was simultaneously one of the most wonderful and horrible experiences of my college career.

I adored working at the preschool.  There's nothing quite like the feeling of a dozen three and four year olds running as fast as they can at you with open arms and huge smiles, screaming your name.  One of my favorite parts of that job was watching them during free play.  I was constantly amazed at the level of imagination and creativity these kids possessed.  They weren't afraid to be wrong or make a mistake and they had no fear of completely expressing their authentic selves.

Contrast that with my Chinese language class.  Learning Chinese can be pretty daunting to start with.  But cramming five credit hours into a couple months in an "intensive" format class is straight-up masochistic.  I highly recommend NOT learning Chinese that way.  At the beginning of every class, the professor would make us stand in front of the class and recite a reading.  If you made a mistake, she made you start all over again until you recited it all perfectly.  You could smell the fear in the classroom every single day.  I remember one kid running out of the room and throwing up from the pressure.

It was such an intriguing contrast to watch young kids at the beginning of their educational experiences just ooze creativity and joy, compared to college sophomores and junior in my Chinese class that had become completely one-dimensional, reciting and memorizing out of fear of failure.

That summer taught me what Sir Ken Robinson talks about in this talk.  Schools (and sometimes parents and workplaces too) slowly wring out every last drop of what makes a child magical, what makes our souls sparkle.

Sir Ken ends his talk saying, "The only way we'll do it [use the gift of the human imagination wisely] is by seeing our creating capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are.  Our task is to educate their whole being so they can face this future."

Do you agree?


  1. so agree. the job of our educators and our mentors is to inspire and teach us limitless expectations. often times the stories we hear are the opposite, with even the greatest of achievers and top ceos telling us stories how people told them they would never amount to much. Lucky for us, these amazing individuals didn't agree with what these "experts" had to say.

    thanks for sharing this, dear friend. Inspiring :)

    1. I couldn't agree more! Thanks for your comment.