Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all. – Aristotle
All human beings are born creators. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to recall when you were a child. Didn’t you love to paint and dance and sing? Didn’t you love to indulge in imaginary worlds you conjured up in your head? Children are naturally creative. It’s one of the things that makes us human. The problem is we’ve been cultured out of our creativity as we’ve grown older. The problem is we have been educated. As Ken Robinson says in his book, Out of Our Minds, ‘The dominant forms of education actively stifle the conditions that are essential to creative development.’
The education system is predominantly left-brain oriented. It rewards conventionality and discourages out of the box thinking. The tragedy of this kind of model is that not all children are left-brain learners, yet they are treated as such. When these children perform poorly within the academic mould they are often viewed as having a learning impediment. In many cases, and I can verify this from my own experiences in the teaching arena, these children act out and develop behavioural problems. Except they are not ‘problem’ children. They are just operating within a system that does not see them for who they are. We have a system that judges all children by the same yardstick, and by doing so, is alienating a huge percentage of the population and suppressing their most natural creative urges as human beings. As a result of such a mechanistic education system, we have adults who do not know what it means to be creative anymore and we have a society that does not take kindly to ideas that subvert the norm.
Creativity is responsible for innovation. It is the stuff progress is made of. If we do not nurture creativity throughout the education process, humanity’s evolution will stagnate. We need to wake our children up to their abilities as creators.
How do we do that?
The best way to give creativity a chance to flourish in education is to provide an environment that allows the children the freedom to express themselves in any way they desire. To create this kind of an environment, a certain amount of time each day should be allocated for what I call creative play. During this process, children will be provided a diverse range of creative materials, tools and resources with which to design, build, draw, paint, compose, choreograph and innovate. It is a chance for children to discover their natural creative impulses and to hone their creative abilities. It is also a chance for the teachers to interact with the children on a personal level and to really get to know what makes each child tick. Teachers would be able to recognise the children’s individual passions, interests and talents, and to water them and watch them grow. What child doesn’t like having the free time to manifest the dreams living inside their head?
Einstein once said, ‘Play is the highest form of research.’
Creative play is essential for self-discovery.
The second thing that needs to happen is for arts programs to be given the respect and attention they so desperately require. The arts always come off second best in the public education system. I believe this stems from the archaic and false mentality that all children are academic learners first, and artists second. Or at least this is how our schools treat them. This poisonous way of thinking has to go. All children learn in a diverse range of different ways. We cannot afford to pigeon-hole their learning any longer. They must be given a broad range of options, from the arts to outdoor education to traditional academia, so that they may choose the doors they wish to walk through. The arts and humanities must be treated with the same level of esteem as the academic pursuits, and this has to be reflected in the funding that is being directed at these programs within the current system.
The time has come to bring much-needed balance back to education all around the globe. The world is fed up with the suppression of our children’s creativity. We are cutting off their wings when we should be showing them how to fly. The left-brain paradigm has had its day and it’s time to show it the door for good. We need a new education system that doesn’t just allow creativity to thrive, but actively celebrates it in all its colourful glory.
We need an education revolution.
About the Author
Will Stanton is a writer and activist who has dedicated his life to changing the education system. He is about to release his book, Education Revolution, which looks at the current paradigm of education and proposes solutions to its many problems. In the book, he offers an entirely new model for global education which he calls The Six Dimension Model.
Follow Will’s Author page to stay updated on the book and future projects: https://www.facebook.com/thesixdimensionmodel
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