True Creativity

We live in a world where creativity can be defined by a test and determined by a score. We can just take a simple exam and find out if we’re “creative enough”. We box education and send cookie-cutter children labeled “creative” out of the system and into the real world. Some test said, “the public’s ‘creativity quotient’ has steadily crept downward” so a class is the fix right? No, absolutely not. Creativity is a natural characteristic that comes from experience and problem-solving; it is not something that can be taught in school nor can it thrive in the modern tech world.

The Issue With School

It is easy to place children in a class that teaches creativity because we’d be doing something to “fix the problem”. They’d spend a semester learning how to be innovative and come up with fantastic ideas to end world hunger or cure cancer. They’d all be Da Vinci’s or Tesla’s conjuring solutions. Really though, children often learn too fast in school to fully comprehend what all the information actually means, so in turn they memorize vocabulary to pass tests and fit a definition of what being creative entails, ultimately defeating the purpose of the class.

For example, I participate in the Health Occupations Students of America academic competition, and my team and I compete in an event called Creative Problem Solving. We simply memorize terms and charts in the textbooks we read, and a creativity class may have the same result. Students would just memorize information like any other class rather than understanding its meaning and growing from it.

Creativity is more “unlearning” than learning. What children do learn in school is reading, writing, memorization, spelling, comprehension, and the list drones on and on. Essentially, children learn how to stifle whatever creativity they may naturally have. In school, kids look for the easiest way to give a teacher what he or she wants to see. This means all sorts of cheating and shortcuts and half-assed assignments. To reach peak creativity, people must unlearn all the bubble-sheet tactics and calculator shortcuts meticulously taught to them for twelve years, eight hours a day.

Modern Technology

We must remember, we are a nation of people who place smartphones in the hands of first graders, so it can’t be that much of a surprise that we lack creativity. An obvious yet often overlooked option is simply not exposing young kids to the world of iPhones and smart TVs, which leads to effectively crippled imaginations. Spending hours staring into a microscopic screen cannot possibly be good for a kid’s mental state, don’t even get me started on their eye health. According to growing wireless, 56 percent of children, age 8 to 12, have a cellphone. Because of this, when we are out in the world, many of us still experience a difficult time detaching from our phones. Our phones hold everything we could possibly need: calendars, solutions, calculators. Instead of using creative thinking to solve an issue, we can turn to our phones to do it for us.

Let Them Choose

Kids should take classes they want to take. It sparks their creativity and increases their will to learn, fixing the shortcut issue I talked about earlier. When I was six, my parents forced me to go to a math tutoring center and I despised it; I’d cry and scream when it came time to go and once my poor parents finally dragged me there, I’d cheat out of the answer key just so I could leave early. When I got to choose what I wanted to do and what classes I wanted to take, math quickly became my favorite subject, juxtaposing the feelings of my younger self. Maybe the Montessori system of education, which places heavy emphasis on allowing children to choose their own activities, is the way to go. It certainly allows children to discover as they please without someone telling them exactly what they are supposed to know and think. It allows them to spark their own creativity and find the things they are passionate about. It allows them to truly create rather than feigning interest in things that ultimately limit their potential.

What Schools Should Do

There are definitive educational alternatives to drilling creativity into children like it’s a math class and they’re memorizing theorems. What school can do in lieu of thoughtless, monotonous classes is offer art, engineering, or philosophy, classes that teach innovation and problem-solving skills and deep thinking. These classes nurture creative children without forcing a creativity class they may not like. They encourage children to use their imaginations and inspire creativeness. What schools shouldn’t do is require creativity classes because hastily thrown together solutions aren’t the answer. Kids shouldn’t be forced to take a class that teaches something that cannot actually be taught in school.

We know creativity cannot be taught in a class, so here’s the real question: How do we actually solve the creativity crisis? We can at least agree that something needs to change, and absurd classes presented as a “solution” are definitely not the way to do it.

Image Attribute: Pixabay