High School Tutoring Strathfield

Creativity and Education

High School Tutoring Strathfield

One common criticism of some foreign education systems is that they stifle creativity. Similar criticism was made of our own education system a few generations ago. It is thought, with some justification, that rote learning works against creativity. It is also thought that an analytical approach to learning, approaching everything mathematically, or as a set of rules, categories, causes, and effects, also works against creativity. This appears to have some truth to it as well.

One question that should be made clear here is whether this is a case of creativity being deliberately being discouraged, or of creativity being compromised as an unfortunate side effect of the teaching method. Despite what some satire might suggest (think of the song ‘Flowers are Red’), it does not seem to be deliberate. Rather, the education system is limited by never progressing past the rote learning stage. We need to rote learn the alphabet before we can spell words, and we need to learn to spell before we write a poem. By the time we get to poetry writing we need both the things we have wrote learned and our own creativity.

But can creativity be taught? Or is it a case of it not being sufficently encouraged, and then falling out of use? Perhaps rote learning gets us stuck in a rigid pattern where creativity becomes difficult.

Of course, this is all a little too simple and misleading. Schools almost always have at least some art, craft, and creative writing in the curriculum. This even exists in countries whose education system is considered un-creative, albeit in a limited form. So the lack of creativity is a loose trend rather than a hard and fast form.

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Education that includes lateral thinking might be one way to add more creativity to a student’s thinking. This goes beyond conventions by teaching individuals to divide things up into new categories, to look at things from a different perspective, and to change or enlarge the context. It is the type of teaching that does not demand a single correct answer but asks how many possible solutions there are to a particular problem, or even if the problem is flawed or even avoidable.

Creativity is needed if students are to be successful beyond early high school. Later education requires students to find their own answers. And higher paid employment also requires at least some original thinking. Hopefully, education can work to teach us what we need to know, and not prevent us from going beyond this.

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