I still love watching Ken Robinson’s TedTalk about how schools kills creativity even if it was for the one hundredths time. I watched this video after reading Newsweek’s The Creativity Crisis (2010) and while I can feel an internal response budding, I wanted to express my response visually by creating a Glogster poster, which I have titled “Don’t Kill Creativity.” The amount of creative genius children hold is very overlooked and not celebrated enough. Our society minimizes the importance of creativity and its affecting the way in which we are able to express ourselves.
I was an extremely creative child. The elementary school where I began my schooling had a number of categorical awards for their students. One award was for the smart little kids who got perfect scores on everything, another award was for those helpful helpers of the school, and there were various other categories of awards given each month. The reason I don’t remember any of these awards is because I never received any of them. The only award I remember is the only award I received and that was the “Spark Award” and it was the award for creativity. Each award had its one button and this one had an image of a lightning bolt. I received eight of these buttons in the two years I was at the school. I made up for everything I didn’t have by having an enormously wild imagination. I often found myself getting lost in my own creativity and the best feeling was not being limited by what I can and cannot do. But that all changed.
Both my teachers and my parents congratulated me for yet another lightning bolt button but they also said something to make me feel like that was not enough. I was told and asked to put some of that creative energy into something else like studying hard to get those A’s. They taught me that intelligence was not about being creative. I never received another Spark Award after that day. And while I worked diligently for those grades and made efforts towards getting other buttons, I never received another award either. And while all the papers and grade reports of those days were thrown into the dumpster, I still have all eight Spark Award buttons stored safely in a plastic container with all other childhood treasures.
What are we teaching our students? We need creative thinkers to solve the problems of the world. Creativity is something that diminishes with time and without being used. I think about the descriptions associated with adults who are creative or work in creative industries and hear a negative connotation. Our society doesn’t look at the job of an artist as a “real job.” What is a “real job”? Why can’t someone have a passion and be fortunate enough to call it their job? Isn’t that we want for everyone? I finally found that in teaching. I love what I do and it allows me to be creative and that creativity is celebrated. I don’t even call it a job. I get up excited about going to school, even if my alarm rings at 4:30am. Isn’t that the type of passion we want for our students as they begin building their futures? Silly me…thought life was about pursuing happiness.
Another one of my favorite Ken Robinson videos: Changing Education Paradigms