Thursday, 5 May 2011

Schools kill creativity? (The Element)

     The Last book reviewed on this site was The Element by Ken Robinson. While the book is at times overly repetitive it offers readers unique inspiration. It does this through numerous stories of individuals who have successfully harnessed that which makes them passionate. Robinson refers to this practice (of finding and harnessing one's passions) as "The Element".

     Yet aside from encouraging readers to discover that which drives them, the book criticizes formal education. Robinson argues that public education often hinders creativity through students' gradual conformity to rigid expectations. To elucidate this point, in particular regard to children, he includes a poem from Loris Malaguzzi (the founder of Reggio schools). The poem, which follows, is taken from the last chapter of the book entitled: "Making The Grade":

The child
is made of one hundred.
The child has
a hundred languages
a hundred hands 
a hundred thoughts
a hundred ways of thinking
of playing, of speaking.
a hundred always a hundred,
ways of listening
of marveling of loving
a hundred joys
for singing and understanding
a hundred worlds
to discover 
a hundred worlds 
to invent
a hundred worlds 
to dream.
The child has 
a hundred languages 
(and a hundred hundred more)
but they steal ninety-nine.
The school and the culture
separate the head from the body.
They tell the child:
to think without hands 
to do without head
to listen and not to speak
to understand without joy
to love and to marvel
only at Easter and Christmas.
They tell the child:
to discover the world already there
and of the hundred 
they steal ninety-nine.
They tell the child: 
that work and play 
reality and fantasy
science and imagination
sky and earth
reason and dream
are things
that do not belong together

And thus they tell the child
that the hundred is not there.
The child says:
No way. The hundred is there.

     So I want to know what you think, has school made you less or more creative? 
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