Public School and creativity in students… can it be done?
Did you know that it wasn’t until 1918, less than 100 years ago, that all students in America were mandated to attend public school? Up until that time, education was done at home, and the state was not responsible for interfering in the education of America’s children… Up until that time parents seemed to do a pretty fine job of teaching their children the skills they would need to succeed in whatever their chosen life or career field would be. Most children could read and write, and also had learned some trade or life skill, that would help them survive in the real world, when they left home.
Did you know that today 1/3 of students graduating from the American Public School system can not read? And the number of students graduating from public system with any idea of what they will do in life, after High School, is almost nil. No trades are taught. No life skills learned.
It is assumed that all children are the same, at every age and stage of development. It is assumed to, that children must learn a set of preconceived, irrelevant facts and ideas, and that the teaching of these basic ideas should be the basis of the American School System.
Children spend hours behind a desk, sitting in a classroom, studying many subjects that they will never use in life. In the meantime they miss out on developing many necessary life skills, and pursuing the very interests, talents and skills that could allow them to achieve greatness, and success in life.
Since the formation of mandatory public schools, the intelligence and ability of America’s young people has been dwindling away.
Children are born with a natural curiosity, and a love for learning, that begins to show itself at birth. They learn to crawl, and walk… they learn to explore their world, ask questions about it, learn the names for everything in it… They learn to communicate, perform tasks, and discover new things every day… Until one day we tell them their natural curiosity is not enough anymore. We send them off to public school, and, in a nutshell, attempt to replace their natural curiosity and love of learning, with a “sit down and listen” approach. No wonder it doesn’t work!
We are aware, today, that human beings have different learning styles, and different brain types, which naturally compel them to excel in certain areas, and struggle in others. Yet the system we use to teach children still demands they all fit into one “box” and all learn the same thing, at the same age. If they have difficulty with that, we decide there is something wrong with them. But is there, really, something “wrong” with these children who don’t fit into the box… or is there something very wrong with the system that tries to box them in the first place?
Creativity is something we are all born with. There are 4 types of creative intelligence. According to Alan J. Rowe, author of the book “Creative Intelligence, Discovering the Innovative Potential In Ourselves and Others”, these types are Imaginative, Intuitive, Innovative, and Inspirational. Let us take a brief look at each of these creative types, and how our public school interferes with the natural development of each.
To be imaginative means to day dream, to fantasize, to create and to visualize… Yet if a child is caught day-dreaming in school, he/she may well be sent to the principals office, for failing to “pay attention” in class. He/she may also get poor grades, and be labeled with any number of negative terms. In this case the public school system is not only failing to teach the child, it is actually working to “stamp out” what could be the child’s most valuable talent and asset in life.
Innovative Intelligence involves creating new things, breaking the mold, stepping out of the idea of how things are typically done, to try something new, and improve on now faulty systems. How does Innovative Intelligence fit into a public school system model? Let’s face it, the model does not allow for innovation, exploration or trying new things. A child who attempts to do things in a different or better way, will often be seen as having difficulty following directions, not able to fit in well, and/or may be viewed as stubborn, willful, or obstinate. Refusing to go along with the crowd in public school is a no-no. “It is not ok to do things your own way” is a lesson children learn early.
Inspirational Intelligence involves leadership qualities, it involves dreaming up better ways and motivating others to join you in your quest for greatness. Inspirational Intelligence can be seen in a select few, in the public school system of today. While there are class leadership roles that a few students will fill, many times today school elections are just a popularity contest, with the most creative and intelligent students being left out, simply because they don’t “fit into the mold.” Also the actual ability of a student to “lead others” in the roles given to them as “Class President, or Class Secretary” are very limited. These “student leaders” are more like student followers, doing what they are instructed to do by the adults running the school. Usually these “leadership roles are filled by the most conforming, “well-behaved” and uncreative individuals in the school. Many more people are born with Inspirational Intelligence, who are never given the opportunity to use it in their school careers.
Intuitive Intelligence may be the only form of creative intelligence that can thrive in a public school environment. Students with this type of creative intelligence are excellent with facts and figures, they understand data, and are good organizers. They set and achieve goals, use common sense, and can solve problems well.
People, adults and children, are not all the same. The model we are currently using for the public school system in America denies the uniqueness of each individual, and may actually be harming the creative intelligence potential of more than 3/4 of the children who attend.
It is time that we as Americans rethink the educational system we are employing today. We need to identify and develop the natural gifts of each child. Instead of a single format for all students, we should consider having several formats, unique to an individuals learning style, and creative intelligence potential.