Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. With ample anecdotes and witty asides, Robinson points out the many ways our schools fail to recognize — much less cultivate — the talents of many brilliant people. “We are educating people out of their creativity,” Robinson says. — from TED Talks

Do you agree or disagree with Sir Robinson’s assertions?

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Clif Mims is a Christian, husband, father, teacher, cancer warrior, and fan of the Mississippi State Bulldogs and Memphis Grizzlies.

105 thoughts on “Do Schools Kill Creativity?”

  1. The educational system, because of its focus on test performance, can create an atmosphere/environment that reduces critical thinking skills and promotes memorization! As the speaker mentioned school is going through a major revolution. The technological transformation is affecting the education by inflating it with information. His session is very captivating. Great pick for an assignment!

  2. I agree with his assertions about pushing out creativity in schools and focusing too much on core academics. Children need to be stimulated with the arts because it brings teamwork and life skills that academics cannot. I think schools need to reconsider pushing out all of the arts and bring them back into schools.

  3. I know this isn’t quite the same level of removing creativity as the video, but I was recently at a district PD and heard another teacher say that her principle no longer allowed her biology students to color. This sounds a little weird in that most people would think that you shouldn’t be coloring in biology anyway, but it is a creative way to help students learn concepts. We often have interactive notebooks in which students label, color, or create drawings of concepts, cycles, or vocabulary terms. I do not know what I would do if this creative freedom was taken from my students.

  4. I’m coming from a different lens as to whether schools kill creativity and in my teaching situation in China I will go with an assertive yes. Constant testing (we are three weeks into the school year and have given school wide exams twice…) is a huge part of the problem and doesn’t allow for kids to express their learning in anyway other than a few multiple choice and short answer questions. Even in art courses, where creativity should be emphasized, entire grade levels are required to paint replicas of van Gogh (van Gogh is very popular) rather than create their own work. I think similar issues exist in school systems worldwide that stifle children from a young age into adulthood and we teachers can feel a rather powerless cog helping to keep this system going.

  5. Yes, I do agree with his assertions. Unfortunately, we have gotten so concerned about teaching the required material, that we have taken away the chance for kids to use their creativity. When there are budget cuts, the first thing to go is art and music. Most high schools focus on the classes students need to get into college. With more and more requirements, there is not much room for electives. I also think that society has a whole has a negative view of teaching children the arts. Parents want their children to go to college, and prepare for a career rather than pursue art, music, or dance.

    1. I am an art teacher and I definitely agree with Sir Robinson’s assertions. Even in Visual Arts the tendency is to implement testing and activities that are easily quantified. The development of standards, although sometimes practical, most of the time are directed to promote not the most creative activities but to generate activities that can be graded.

    2. I am an art teacher and I definitely agree with Sir Robinson’s assertions. Even in Visual Arts the tendency is to implement testing and activities that are easily quantified. The development of standards, although sometimes practical, most of the time are directed to promote not the most creative activities but to generate activities that can be graded.

    3. I agree with his assertions that schools are killing creativity. Nowadays, teachers are not being able to teach for authentic purposes. Because of standardized tests playing such an important role in the school systems, teachers are having to teach for those test, rather than giving students opportunity to think outside the box.

  6. I do agree with Sir Robinsons’ assertions as well as the statement, schools kill creativity. As a science teacher, I can say that I allow my students more room to explore. Teachers who teach other content areas may have and continue to frighten students. I’ve crossed many students afraid to answer questions in class. Obviously, this has happened over a greater period of time. Kids can’t be creative anymore. They’re being taught structure in school, and that there is only one way of doing something. For example, you go to school, take standardized tests, graduate, and find a great job. Never do you hear schools or teachers express that there is another way.

  7. When considering testing standards and a strong demand for outcome rather than process, I believe schools are hindering creative development. However, STEM education is at a greater decline compared to fostering creativity in schools, and STEM is crucial for maintaining an environmentally and economically stable society.

  8. I agree with the statement that schools are killing creativity. With all of the demands from the state and the emphasis on assessments, there seems to be no time left for creativity. I have noticed in the elementary schools reading and math seem to be the main focus for instruction. Social Studies and Science is incorporated with their reading curriculum due to the time dedicated to reading and math. Music (band) is optional in the middle and high schools. Not many students are encouraged to participate in the band.

  9. I have watched this speech before, and it is still just as applicable. Schools today are so focused on SAT and ACT scores, college placement, and academic ability. These schools have taken focus away from any type of technical education or skills. The high school I am at currently does not have art, drama, or dance classes. Every teacher and parent tries to guide kids to a career where they will be financially successful, but that is not what should be done. I think schools need to focus on developing hobbies and interests that will lead students to careers that are best suited for their happiness. The norm for millennials now shows that most college graduates are still clueless about what they want to do with their life. That is AFTER they have completed a degree in a certain area of study. I also completely changed course after I graduated. While I am not as creative, I would have benefitted from a number of electives so I could discover my path rather than a strict schedule of math and science.

  10. Opportunities for creativity are so important. I strongly believe the arts should be valued just as much as the core subjects. This video has made me realize how I need to try to maintain that creativity as an educator as well!

  11. I agree entirely with what Robinson said in his lecture. It is often true that creativity is sacrificed in favor of more “academic” subjects. I had a student this year with little to no interest in any traditional subjects, but plenty of interest in art and writing screenplays. I saw some of his artwork and it was truly amazing. If his artistic interest is suppressed, he will learn to ignore a real talent. This is not to say that students with talents in other areas should ignore math or science, but they certainly should not ignore their talents. I think the problem is that the education system has been structured the same way for so long that it is very easy to continue doing what we’ve been doing (ignoring creativity, as Robinson points out) because changing the way we do things requires effort.

  12. This is definitely a very amusing way to highlight the issue. He is a very personable speaker and I was entertained by his many anecdotes. I do agree with the speaker. Creativity should be just as celebrated as literacy in education. Education in general is so focused on a specific type of intelligence that other types, namely creativity, is being overlooked. Coming from one who personally struggles with creativity, I can appreciate those who embody the skill! Creativity is how things progress and while literacy is definitely important, the educational platform should be shared to encompass this trait in its scope as well.

  13. Encouraging creativity in the classroom can be difficult, especially when considering the current public educational environment. Many teachers (particularly those in subjects that are state/federally tested) are quite focused on educating their students to assure that they can succeed on end of course testing. While this is obviously not the ideal situation, it is the reality in which many public school educators live. Just be cause we, as educators, don’t agree with this prioritization doesn’t mean that we can ignore the reality in favor of educational paradigm favoring creativity. If we do not make sure students learn the material well enough to succeed on their standardized assessment, the consequences are real. Students, educators, and the school systems can, and often are, punished based on poor scoring on theses exams. Teachers can see their salaries cut, or even be fired for students performance. School districts can lose their much needed funding, or even be closed outright. And the students know it. This knowledge promotes much of the problems with students not being as creative as they could be. I think both students and teachers would be delighted to be more creative in thinking and in general in the classroom. But reality dictates another course of action. If we want to change the tone of the educational system, we need to change the priorities of said system.

  14. Bringing creativity to the classroom can be a difficult thing at times. There are times within a writing lesson when I would prefer my students to come up with original pieces of work but they tend to copy down the examples I have already laid out for them. If I could do more things that involve creativity I would but because we are so hung with how well students do on testing that it prevents me from that. And now-a-days its all about finding text evidence that supports your answer and less on creative thinking and imaginative ways.

  15. This video has been a favorite of mine for some time now. I completely agree with his points about creativity. Last year, I used TED talks quite a bit to spark discussions in my health class. While their initial disappointment with the videos not being about a sarcastic teddy bear faded, the talks left lasting impressions with some of the students. My experiences in my classroom continually confirmed Sir Ken Robinson’s comments within this video. I would intentionally provide minimal directions for creative assignments only to find students attempting to reign in their own work by asking for more restrictions. It took the better part of the school year for students to realize that I wanted to see their thoughts on the topic not just their ability to follow directions. I used the portion of the video about Jenny a few times before my classes would learn about self-image because so many of my students were already limiting their futures. They had already shaped their self-image around performance in certain subjects or activities, not understanding that they may not have encountered what their passion in life will be.

  16. I have to agree. Many times, I get frustrated after researching different ideas for the classroom because I always come back to the realization that I must teach to a test. Not only are student’s creativity being hurt, teachers’ creativity is equally affected. With the current evaluation system that we are teaching under, it is very difficult for us to do anything out of the ordinary. We are expected to do things a certain way and in a certain time frame just to keep our jobs.

  17. I do agree with Sir Ken Robinson’s assertions. The arts in elementary school typically only meet once a week and there are no art TCAP tests which speaks volumes about how they are not valued. Being creative is not properly recognized or rewarded in schools especially when high stakes testing is the norm everywhere with no end in sight. Sir Ken did not really address how badly the system has run amok with respect to our differently abled students. NCLB forces adminstrators and teachers to get students ready for the TCAP rather than help students meet the meaningful goals on their IEPs. The testing is killing creativity and so much more. By 8th grade my youngest said she was tired of all the testing (done on a quarterly basis then, perhaps experimental) and just wanted to go to class to learn.

    I agree that children need to be allowed to make mistakes without feeling bad about it. I always loved it when a student went to the board and made a mistake. I would enthusiastically thank them and use it as a teachable moment.

    Again, I am a big STEM supporter but we need people with a variety of talents to make the new discoveries, start the new venture, rework the old. America owes its success to its creativity and ingenuity. Why would we want to force it out of our schools? Why can’t we see that this is happening?

  18. As an educator, I notice ‘smarter’ children hesitating to try something out of the box, I suppose due to the fear of being ‘wrong’. Dr. Robinson mentions this as an element which diminishes creativity. As educators, we should not be punishing students for their mistakes (thus creating the climate of “BEING WRONG”), but rather create a community of learning from mistakes. We could even celebrate mistakes, because that is how we learn! Unfortunately the climate of high stakes testing makes getting the ‘right’ answer the first, and foremost, priority. Fostering creativity in the school system would merit a renovation of the current assessment methods. Imagine, rather than choosing a. b. or c., students will actually write a sentence or draw a picture to express their opinion. Communication. Now that is a change in the right direction.

  19. Dr. Robinson’s TED talk on creativity and the educational system that stifles it was insightful and on point. His premise that the “purpose” of education is to produce university professors is sad but true in that all celebrated academic ability is predicated on university entrance. The bar is set at the level of being able to go to college which drives the curriculum for what is taught (and measured) in high school, which forms the curriculum for how to prepare for high school in middle school/junior high, which in turn focuses the lessons taught in elementary school. Any deviation from the plan set forth is seen to have drastic and life-long impact in the prevention of the child from getting into college (seen as the highest form of achievement.) This is the greatest obstacle to those seeking to individualize education – a mistaken end goal that isn’t going away. As long as we keep saying “minimum expectation is college degree,” all other forms of learning and achievement are a mere waste of time.

  20. I really do love TEd Talks. I agree with Sir Robinson, in that we are not allowing our learners to be creative. I don’t think that it’s intentional, but rather an unintended consequence of standardized test scores guiding educational practices. Allowing students to be creative and finding that they are wrong present valuable teachable moments.

  21. Several very thoughtful comments have been posted in the last few days. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and contributing to our conversation.

  22. What an awesome TEd talk! I agree with Sir Robinson. Even though both of my children (now grown) faired very well in the current public educational system, I have always thought that it could have been much better for those who did not. I sincerely believe that creativity is very important to the growth and development. I believe that children with different gifts are not valued or celebrated. I have seen that play out in the classrooms of my children. I am not sure of the solution, but I think that change in our educational system is long overdue.

  23. After watching the TedTalks from Sir Ken Robinson it made me reflect on my career as a teacher. As a teacher in New York State, we are required to follow strict pacing plans that set forth exactly what lesson we are teach on a particular day, and should not deviate from that plan . This plan cuts out the opportunity for teachers and students to have “teachable moments.” Under this strategy we are unable to deviate from the pacing guide because our number one priority (at least according to the State) is the NYS assessment. These NYS assessments hold so much value on our school ranking, state funding, and in some cases (like my school) a school could be closed based on low scores. Teacher and administrators are also rated on the state assessment scores of our students.

    I find in my experience, that instead of field trips and fun learning opportunities students are required to follow a strict regiment of common core workbooks. Reading materials are already determined, and what might interest a student is of little concern because it will not be on the state assessment. It seems as though, students are tested constantly just so further data can be complied.

    I recognize as Sir Ken Robinson discussed that, the education system is predicated on academic ability, but we need to reconsider just how the academic ability is measured. As Sir Ken Robinson noted, 1. Intelligence is diverse it’s how we experience it; 2 Intelligence is dynamic ; 3. Intelligence is distinct. I see that while some of my students may not necessarily understand math or certain equations, but they excel in other areas, like design or literature, or may even be able to tell me how to change my oil.

    In reality not everyone will go onto to college. I feel like there is so much emphasis placed on students to become a lawyer or doctor, when In reality we need to prepare students for being self sufficient. We need to rethink the fundamentals for educating students. We have to use our imagination and but a value on creativity.

    If anyone is interested I’ve attached another TedX video, which demonstrate an alternative way of education through a teenagers perspective. I watched this a while ago and found it fascinating.

  24. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone articulate the problem with our educational system in a more correct way in my life. I have always believed that schools should be designed with “themes” in mind. For example, if a child, like myself, loved everything sports, why can’t they (or me) be taught with the content embedded in that “theme?” I bet I would have enjoyed math a lot more if it was centered around the amount of points that Michael Jordan scored each night and I’m certain that percentages would have made much more sense to me if we were discussing it around the winning percentage of the Chicago Bulls or the Boston Celtics.

    As a child, I remember dreaming of creating my own school and I think this would be the way I would center my instruction. Can we have English classes that read about people’s lives who interest children the most? If we had real “Schools within Schools” that offered a “Dance path” or a “Music path” or a “Science path” and children got to choose which path their heart seemed to beat for. Then all of the content (which is the same for every path) was centered around what children gravitated towards the most – wouldn’t something like this make learning more relevant to each child? Don’t get me wrong, I thing children should be “exposed” to lots of different things and ways of seeing the world, but maybe that is the way we extend the learning – after we have their attention and after they bear a level of understanding. It seems to me that education is just the opposite. Why can’t learning be fun and interesting? I know that when someone teaches me something in the context of sports, I can more easily make connections with what I now know to things that I do not know (or care to know). We must find ways to tap into the hearts of what children love and we cannot do that with class sizes bulging at 35 per class. Have you noticed, as I have, that few videos of great teaching involve more than 3-5 students at a time? We have seen some fantastic videos already in this class and my favorite is the one where the teacher is working at a table with the 4 or 5 children who are talking about patterns and then connections. Can a teacher really tap into the minds of each child when there are more than 5-10 in a class (especially with younger children and those with exceptional needs, such as the inner city and poverty stricken)?

    As you can see, I have a tremendous passion for how I think education should be delivered and until we lower class sizes and focus on meeting children where they are and where their hearts lie, I believe more children than not will continue to be undereducated – all for testing’s sake.

    Thank you, Sir Ken Robinson. Thank you.

    1. And one last comment – now, with the addition of Web 2.0 technologies, just imagine how individualized we can make learning! No child should be bored and unengaged in education today. (By the way – one of my loves with regards to education is differentiated instruction!)

  25. TED Talks are always enlightening. Education does run deep. It’s a part of parental and personal expectations. Education and creativity is as important as literacy, as Sir Robinson so clearly stated. Growing up we played far more creative games than the children of today (e.g., red light, green light, mother may I?, etc.). We also had arts and crafts and physical education as a part of the school curriculum. Today, laws are established to restore cursive writing in schools. Wow! Society really is “educating people out of their creativity.” This is something to think about especially if e-learning is to survive. After all, how do you reach distance learners if there is no creativity involved in the modules? Just a thought.

  26. I really love this TED talk. It is true that our educational system does not promote creative thinking. I think that a portion of it is because a lot of the jobs that people train for are jobs where information is put in to be processed and creativity is not needed. The other half is the emphasis on competitiveness, which is a societal value. Competition stifles creativity as well as evaluations. So when kids are being evaluated and competing for the highest grade, they are less likely to search for creative expression if it is not needed. They will memorize the necessary material in order to get a good grade and that will be a far as they take their education.

  27. I think this theory is beautiful and accurate. My son was diagnosed with “ADHD.” He was a busy body as a young child. Constantly getting into things and always had a rationalization for why he did things. Though his reasoning was often logical it was often “inappropriate” which led to a plethora of trips to the principal’s office. Eventually, his antsy pantsy behavior led to him getting behind in school because his behavior often kept him from receiving his instruction. I remember him crying on time saying “people just don’t get it, I don’t know how to make them understand all the stuff that is in my head.” He eventually was placed in special education resource for about four years until I pulled him out of the public school system in the 6th grade (he attend private school for kindergarten) and put him in a charter school where he flourished.

    He went back to public school for his junior and senior years. He got a 24 on his ACT his first try, he also went on to receive 2 full engineering scholarships. After his 1 semester of college he decided he didn’t like college. After all, he only wanted to go so he could play basketball. So he has decided that he is either going to a tech school for automotive repair (which he wanted to do initially, but who throws away to free rides) or the military. My waste up one sided educator brain is cringing but I think he has well proven he is “intelligent.” After years of being forced to live in an enclosed box I think it is time for him to “uneducate” himself.

    Being a special education teacher I am often amazed at how intelligent my students are. However, assessment after assessment deems them the opposite. At what point will be accept that college is not for everyone? Why is it necessary to use college entrance measures as a barometer for predicting intelligence. I know plenty of academics that can spout theories, statistics and formulas but have no real world or common sense. I mean, how many millionaires went to college?

    1. A wonderfully amazing story! All children can learn! They just don’t like being forced to do it someone else’s way. If your child was in a school/class that met his individual needs, he would have been a genius!

  28. Many of Robinson’s points hit home with me.

    The willingness to be wrong, for example. I’ve been teaching language now for about 5 years (ESL, French and Spanish), and I always tell people that the most important quality that leads to effective learning of a foreign language is the willingness to be wrong. You have to take chances and make mistakes so that you can learn from them. And you have to be able to throw yourself out there with every possibility that you are completely wrong and will sound very stupid. I know that there are many neurological and psychological reasons that children learn foreign languages much more easily that adults do, but this is a much more poetic way of putting it: because they aren’t afraid of being wrong.

    Also, educating from “the waist up and slightly to one side” was a concept that felt a little too familiar. Our country’s tendency to try to produce little money bags instead of well-rounded humans is very troubling to me.

    Lastly, I loved the story about his dancer friend. Something like 75% of my students are told they have ADD or ADHD and are prescribed amphetamines for it. I can’t help but wonder how many of them are simply dancers? Or runners? Or acrobats or contortionists or gymnasts?

    My only question to Sir Robinson is- what do we do about it? What’s to be done? Giving him a high five comment on a web page certainly won’t change anything. What does he recommend for resolving this?

  29. I adorn this video because Sir Robinson is accurate and hilarious. Sadly, I do think schools can kill one’s creativity. It hurts my feels that the Arts are not promoted more in school, and they will be the first thing to go when money becomes tight. Another thing…..

    “Academic Inflation” WOW so true. We need to encourage our students to channel their energy into something they love. If you find an occupation you love, it will never be considered work.

    Another thing…. the medication . Wow another thing that is so true. I find it astonishing to see students lined all the way out into the hallway to go to see the Nurse. Scary.

  30. I TOTALLY agree with Sir Robinson’s assertions! A point that he made that stood out with me was that education takes us into the future of which no one knows what it looks like, but we’re suppose to educate for it. He went on to say that all students have tremendous talent, and we squander it. The high point for me was that highly talented, brilliant, creative people think that they are not because what they were good at was not valued. I see that in my classroom EVERY day! I have boys who can free-style rap but feel they can’t write or understand poetry. Our gifted program only recognizes academic giftedness when there are gifted students sitting I the classroom with their gifted fire slowly burning out because no one will fan the flames. As a classroom teacher, I feel my hands are tied because I’ve been instructed to “teach to the test.” If it’s not in the standards, don’t teach it.

  31. A very interesting and informative presentation. I’m not quite familiar with the school system in the U.S. but, he described some points that I could remember from my medical schools years in my country. I agree every student is creative and that the education system can negatively affect them. Teachers and primary parents should identify their students/children strengths and encourage them to grow in those areas.

  32. I was introduced to TED a couple of years back. I love it! You never know what you are going to get with TED, but the presentations are usually enlightening and make you think about the topic in a different way. Sir Ken’s presentation is unique combination of humor and seriousness.

  33. My first encounter of Sir Robinson was his RSA Animate video “Changing Paradigms”. He reiterates what was said in the video here. Our school system is failing our students and preparing them for jobs that were plentiful in the Industrial Era. If you look at our schools they are setup like factories. We have set times for everything just like a factory. Does every student do well at 8 in the morning or 8 at night. Some do better at different times why not make schools more conducive to a students learning instead of an assembly line.

    Here is a link to Changing Paradigms:

  34. This was a very gripping presentation I could not stop listening. I agree with him and I have always nurtured the creative side of my children at home.

  35. This is an interesting presentation.

    A reason why math, science, and language are mandated subjects while the arts are not may be that people in general do not naturally appreciate math, science, and language. The Picasso quote Sir Robinson used was: “Children are born artists.” Are children born mathematicians? Born linguists? It makes sense to mandate the study of those subjects that are least likely to be naturally explored.

    As I listened to this presentation, I felt like I was hearing a conclusion without having the benefit of the foundational data. Sir Robinson kept referring to a revolution in which creativity is necessary. What is the nature of this revolution? Is he referring to the entertainment and advertising sectors? To the emerging Web? Why, exactly, is creativity so vital to the future?

    I was homeschooled, and my parents mandated certain “hard” subjects, but always coupled them with plenty of time to play with my brothers. We wrote songs, performed plays, and learned magic tricks, completely of our own volition. Looking back, I realize now that my parents were fostering a creative environment for us, while also giving us the foundation in math and science that we would need to succeed. But they did this by giving us time to do what we wished, without a program or an outline.

    When we stop looking at students as units to be completed and start seeing them as people, as ends within themselves, then creativity in all subjects flourishes.

  36. Like Fair, a quote came to mind while watching this video, specifically the part about the dancer. Maria Montessori said, “It is true that we cannot make a genius. We can only give to each individual the chance to fulfill his potential possibilities.” I don’t think that many teachers get the chance to even recognize some students’ “potential possibilities” because what they are required to teach doesn’t allow them to.

  37. This reminds be of the Einstein quote “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” Schools, in many ways, have failed students by instilling in them a belief that their level of success can only be indicated by a numerical score… and that failure is to be avoided at all costs and is unacceptable. As educators, we have the unique opportunity (and obligation) to teach the whole child, to foster creativity, and to view our students as autonomous learners.

  38. I must say, I opted to watch this segment solely because of the, Do Schools Kill Creativity?

    Sir Robinson brings to light several points that seemed to have been hiding in the dark corners of our minds. The combination of the story of the girl who was “drawing God,” his comment that if “kids don’t know, they’ll have a go,” and the title of the segment, Do Schools Kill Creativity? resonated with very strongly.

    Do schools kill creativity? I personally say, yes. During one of my year in elementary school, I think during 4th grade, but I can’t promise to that, I had my creativity devastated. It was an in-class creative writing assignment, in which we were to write a story (1-page) based on a few sentence on an index card giving us the main idea. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any one card that inspired me to be creative; and instead used two or three, and wrote a masterpiece of 4th grade fiction.

    Full of pride in my accomplishment, and minor aspirations of becoming a fantasy novelist, I turned in my creation only to receive a failing grade on the assignment because I couldn’t “follow the instructions to use only one card.” I was immediately deflated and my lack of confidence in my writing ability stayed with me well into my college years.

    It wasn’t until I grew up enough emotional to place this, and other doubts in my abilities, to the side that I started to overcome my insecurities and become the person I am today. I encourage my daughter to try as much as she can and how ever she wants to, just so she doesn’t have to experience this type of devastation and I hope that as a teacher, I would do the same for my students.

  39. This video had so many strong points.

    For example just making the point that sometimes being wrong is part of stretching ourselves and learning is one worth repeating. Our emphasis on superficially and rigidly correct answers is binding our culture and inhibiting the development of alternative solutions to all of our worldly problems.

    Thanks a lot for posting this video and thanks to edtechi for posting the second video link.

  40. I really loved his presentation. His jokes along with his insight on creativity made the presentation interesting. He made a great point “If you are not wrong you will never come up with anything original.” Many students discover their natural talent by going out on a limb. Students should be given the opportunity to use their creative thoughts and ideas in the classrooms. Kids need an outlet to express themselves.

  41. That was absolutely one of the best videos I have seen concerning education in a long time.I emailed the link to both my administrators. When he discussed what professors are like, living in their heads, I thought of my engineer/professor husband! SO HIM! And when he discussed the little girl that was hyper and ended up becoming a multimillionaire because her mother just LET HER DANCE! I thought, “Wow. That is our world. Get rid of the arts and put all the kids on medication!”
    Really good.

  42. I agree with Sir Robinson’s assertion that developing creativity is just as important as the development of literacy. Creativity requires the use of higher level thinking which far too many of our students lack. I agree with his view because we must value all gifts and a larger focus on the arts would provide a means to do this. I love his humor and his ability to hold my attention.

  43. This speaker was previously unknown to me, although I recognize him (his voice, rather) from another video I saw a while back titled “Changing Education Paradigms (” In the “Changing Paradigms” video, he addresses some of the same concerns, specifically that our educational system is outdated, and focuses on an overly structured process that implies the “only thing the students have in common is their age.”

    Likewise, he makes some excellent points on creativity in the video posted here; I agree with most of what he says.

  44. Very interesting piece and Sir Ken Robinson is absolutely right. We must revamp public education in order to serve the needs AND STRENGTHS of our children, and do away with the “assembly-line” version that exists today.

  45. This is an interesting presentation about education. I believe that human beings are created for different purposes. Not all of us are capable to do the same things. The example giving by Sir Ken Robison about a girl with so many problems at school but a successful dancer makes me rethink education. Are we really teaching on a way that makes sense to the students and also materials that are related to their needs? Sometimes I change the way I teach a subject and I can see the surprise on my student’s faces. They are also not ready for changes because they had been for so long on a structure and linear system. Changes are important and we should be open to be able to educate for the future.

  46. This is so true! Too often now children are afraid to express their ideas and opinions that may be “out of the box.” They censor their answers to line up with what the majority viewpoint may be until they no longer naturally think with a creative, original thought process. I was an undergrad marketing student, and the curriculum was essentially the definition of an oxymoron. They want you to create original ideas while pandering to the mainstream mindset. The same thing happens in school as children get older. They are taught to think less about their point of view, and more about the accepted point of view. It is disheartening. Children’s creativity and originality should be encouraged and nurtured so that they can grow up to become the innovative leaders that the world needs.

  47. This talk has given some me some deep thoughts about how the educational system is set up. I think that we judge children and schools based on test scores is a terrible set up. However, I’ve always wondered what other way is there. Just like he said, all school systems have been made the same around the world. The real questions is, how can we successfully adopt these open ideas about creativity, while maintaining policy and structure? How do we use these creativity’s to further educate and prepare? I agree ADHD is an “invented” condition. At what age do we recognize this need and send children through different paths? So what I am saying is, he is right. Change needs to be made, but where and how do we start?

  48. “Creativity is as important as literacy.” Those are pretty strong ideas. The more I think about it, the more I agree. If kid’s don’t know, they’ll take a stab at it. Their not afraid of being wrong. We’ve outgrown this trait as adults. I agreed with so much of what Sir Robinson said. I enjoyed listening to his assertions.

  49. I agree. When I look back at my own educational experience it was not as widely accepted to be creative the older you get. Creativity is great as long as the majority agree, while not as much when it is not. We need to focus our children on what they enjoy and utilize these subjects to garner a better understanding of the ones that are not as well liked.

  50. Imagination is disappearing in today’s childhoods. What seems a lifetime ago, we let our children go outside for the day with a pitcher of lemonade on the porch. We just had to listen for Dad’s voice calling us for dinner. We created worlds of indians and cowboys, princess and ball-gowns or whatever we dreamed up. We explored. Today, our children are not out of an adult’s eyesight for long for the fear that has been instilled in us of today’s unsafe surroundings. They are kept in contained environments without much deviation from the task on hand.

    Sir Ken states that we educate from the waste up not addressing the arts in the same fashion as we do other academic areas. In many areas of the country, this is very true. The first programs to be cut are art, music and drama. Dance really is not part of the schools. I give credit to many of the public schools in the Mid South that incorporate music, art and drama programs. This summer, my daughter had the opportunity to participate in the Shelby County Schools Art Academy. They chose from art, choir, band or strings for a week long instruction from local professionals as well as teachers. Many were introduced to technology tools to use to improve composition, pitch or edit their pieces. In just five days, her creativity flourished to the next step.

  51. Creativity is as important as literacy. How profound is that statement. I agree with Sir Ken. I have always enrolled my children in art classes along with math and reading and enrichment. I try to encourage my children to explore either in a class or at home. My son enjoys playing the piano, but instead of just taking lessons I encourage him to write his own songs. My young daughter walks around speaking in a language that she has created on her own. Instead of squelching that creativty I encourage it. I agree that we have to foster creativity in children and give them a safe place to explore their creative sides.

    I also agree with him about the differences between a woman’s ability to multi task and a man’s inability to do that. LOL

    But I digress….I think we have to create opportunities for our children to be creative. I personally think the integration of technology can help young people who are used to gaming technology to enjoy being creative using websites like

  52. I have to go against the general feeling here…I really don’t agree with what is being said. While I feel that schools are working toward integrating more activities which require creativity and mental flexibility, I don’t think they are currently failing kids either. The argument isn’t as easy as pitting so called ‘academics’ against ‘arts’ or about valuing the contributions of the right side of the brain over the left. Most schools are progressing towards using problem-solving, differentiated learning and arts integration in all aspects of the curriculum.

    I also take issue with the idea that it ALL has to come from the school. Children simply should not be attending school all day only to come home and plant themselves in front of the television and video games all evening. Children (and adults for that matter) need to explore all of the options that are available to nurture their individuality and create whole people. Encourage your child to read, sew, dance, cook, hike, run around playing hours of capture the flag, paint, play Scrabble, build a train set, have a conversation!!!! But don’t just send your kid to school and think “Oh good, ‘education’ is taken care of”.

  53. He had some very valid points. To me it argues the case for projrct based learning. Through creativity students are able to trully express their creativity and apply the skills they learn. I think that we are realizing the benefit of this method.

  54. I completely agree with him. He makes a very strong and true point that the school systems dont allow children to spread their wings into what they want to be doing. It does take away the origonality of the wide range of talents these children have and can exceed with.

  55. Schools will stifle creativity if and only if the teacher pursues that goal. Can we pursue non-traditional thinking and action in multiple modalities? We can, and we should. One popular notion in education is the recognition of the theory of multiple intelligences — that people can be skilled in certain forms of intelligence and self-expression. As educators, we should be pursuing these goals with every lesson, ensuring that we are allowing for freedom of expression and freedom of creativity.

  56. I definitely agree with a lot of what Mr. Robinson is saying. This is the second time I’ve watched this video this week and both times I have been reminded of my own time in school. I never felt encouraged to be creative or follow the path of creativity in school. Reading, writing, math, and science were drilled into our brains. I have now found a creative outlet in painting, but as an adult! It was never introduced to me as a child. However, I feel it is not just art or music or dance classes that are lacking, but creativity in EVERY classroom. Teachers lecture and provide notes, but where is the encouragement to be creative in projects? Essays provide it in terms of writing, but what about the students who aren’t necessarily good writers, but have a talent for drawing? Or painting? It is important for us as teachers to differentiate our instruction to include all students and all abilities.

  57. My favorite part of this video it that Sir Ken gives a reason for how we have come to the education system we have. That is grew out of the industrial revolution. It gives the classroom an industrial revolution assembly line kind of atmosphere. Be quite, sit in a spot and do your work. The arts do take a back seat, but it is necessary in a primitive society for that to happen, for survival. Can you imagine a small community of artist performing their art forms and no farmers or hunters? Our world is well beyond a primitive society and we have more than enough resources to provide growth in the arts. One thing I did not like though, was the AD/HD reference. Learning disabilities are not that simple. Different people need different things but not all individuals with AD/HD are meant to be multi-millionaire dancers. Some are genuinely in need of medication to function. Also, not only are we lacking in teaching the arts, we also are missing the mark with technology and wouldn’t it be nice if we had all graduated with a bit of background in finance?

  58. I definitely agree that schools can stifle creativity. The classroom environment often has every student working on the same assignment–an assignment where each question has only one correct answer, I might add. Conformity is the norm and is encouraged because it makes the teaching process easier. I think teachers of subjects like reading, writing, arithmetic, etc. often feel that creativity isn’t/shouldn’t be a part of their lesson plan. However, I think that creativity can be encouraged in all classes, not just the music or art class.

  59. Children lose their creativety over the years. When they are young they have the freedom to express themselves however they want. When children start school they are forced to follow so many rules. It really makes you wonder.

  60. I agree with him. Creativity is just as important as literacy. I think we are very focused on meeting standards and goals. While this is necessary, we can’t ignore the creativity, gifts and talents that our students have. We can use these talents to help them understand the concepts we teach in class. For example, I might use a song to teach multiplication or let students form a human graph in the class when we learn to plot points. I have to engage students and let them be themselves.

  61. This was very thought-provoking. As a math teacher, I feel that the only way I can produce mathematicians is to encourage creativity, not squash it, and since my undergraduate degree is in music, I use it in my classroom as much as possible. Any observer would be amazed seeing how my students think in my class where they can listen to music and move around the room. It’s definitely not the same as how they think in other classes where they sit in rows for 55 minutes.

  62. This video touched a personal spot with me. Before becoming a teacher I spent years in Corporate America having my creativity squashed. And it was the ability I had to BE creative as a teacher that first intrigued me about this profession. However, I agree with Sir Robinson’s assessment that schools do stiffle the creativity of the students. We barely let them talk out and share ideas in class, much less be creative….and all for the sake of “good classroom management.” I hope we find an answer to this problem soon.

  63. Mary I would suggest integrating the music,art, dance, physical activity to lessons. They would remember more and have fun learning it. Sort of reminds me of Akeelah and the Bee were she kept rhythm to win the spelling bee. 🙂

  64. ok so he’s right!!! I’ve been saying the same thing about ADHD for a while now. They are just kids they aren’t suppose to sit still and listen for 45 min straight. Even in college sitting and listening to lectures were hard though children are disruptive adults doze off or overload on coffee. Also its do true about college grads you are always over or under qualified and I did move back home 🙂


  66. I agree with Sir Ken. I am not currently teaching, but I have heard many teachers complain of feeling like the teach to the test. The schools are so concerned with tests scores that the teachers do not have any room in their schedule to add in material they feel is important and would be interesting for the students. I feel that there should be a balance between te standardize tests and creativity lessons for todays students.

  67. I agree with Jeremy and also Sir Ken. So much emphasis is placed on standardized test scores. TCAP and Gateway tests focus on math, science, literature, writing, and history (please forgive me if I missed a subject). Teachers’ jobs and livelyhood are threatened if their students do not perform well on tests. Not only is creativity left out, but some essential skills that may not be tested are left out as well.
    I agree that “we are being educated out of our creativity.” If students have an urge for creativity or have talents that are not fostered in regular schools, the only other option is sending the child to an expensive “arts” school. Like Jeremey said, creativity is essential in the work place. Most everybody will be faced with a situation in their career in which they must solve a problem with creativity.
    It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure that our students’ creative edges are being fostered at school.

  68. I would have to agree with Sir Ken Robinson on his assertion that schools do “kill” creativity. Our schools are currently designed, like he said, in a hierarchy, in which specific skills, namely math and science, are valued over others. Sir Robinson mentioned a couple reasons why having this hierarchy is ridiculous. One of the reasons why an academic hierarchy is absurd is because people cannot accurately assign value to skills that may or may not be valuable in 30, 20, or even 10 years. If we cannot accurately assess what skills children will need for the future than how can we place a value or emphasis on any particular skill now. Another important point Sir Robinson made was the stress we place on children to be right and not make mistakes. Children, and people in general, need to be willing to make mistakes in order to create, or even learn, something new and original. This rejection to make any mistakes stifles creativity probably more than any one thing in our schools and in society. We need to find new ways to praise children’s efforts and ideas, and less ways to assess them on their mistakes. Sir Robinson also mentioned the declining value of a college degree or what he called, “academic inflation”. This knowledge is very important to educators. If employers no longer value “just” a college degree, then what do they value? Many would say an important skill now seen in the workforce would be the ability to see a problem and to suggest creative solutions. For all these reasons I agree with Sir Robinson that we need to rethink the fundamental ways we educate children and begin to see the vastness of human capabilities.

  69. I agree with Sir Robinson and I love his style in presentation. However, I wonder how idealistic his view is at the present time. Where do we start to open the door for the creativity and the diverse intelligence of students? I think we need to rethink curricula, school scheduled (how much can you put in a school day)and teacher training.

  70. Great video clip! I feel that student creativity has been somewhat hampered by instructors who feel pressured to just “teach to the test”. Sir Robinson makes some valid points. After watching the video, I thought to myself, doesn’t a lot of what he just said seem like common sense? But for some reason “common sense” seems to get lost in translation between policies and laws governing education and activities that take place in the classroom. Too many times, the people dictating how teachers run their classrooms are either too far removed from being on the front lines to remember what it’s really like…or they’ve never spent a single day as a teacher in front of a class full of students. Our country is lagging behind other countries in terms of student achievement. Research is out there to prove that statement. Until teachers control the learning environment within their own classrooms and not politicians, I don’t see our overall progress improving.

    OK, climbing down off of the soapbox now : )

  71. I do agree with Sir Robinson. I think one thing that may make it difficult for people in education right now is that we are being asked to integrate and use technology in our classrooms that was never used in ours. It would be easier to know how to adjust to this necessity of being familiar with and integrating technology into classrooms if it in any resembled the way that we were taught in schools. I can remember computers being something that I had to learn on my own time after I had finished my assigned reading. But it is the responsibility of the educator to have all the tools necessary to teach his students and inspire as much creativity in them as is possible.

  72. I agree with Sir Robinson that creativity does not seem to be a priority in schools. As he stated, in order to be creative, you must be prepared to be wrong. If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original. Students should be allowed to be creative and they should not be frightened of being wrong.

  73. Sir Robinson is amazingly brilliant and uses humor and intelligence to discuss creativity. Several things he said struck deep. I have a desk calendar for teachers and recently one of the days said that the body’s soul purpose is to carry the brain. When Sir Robinson mentioned this in conjunction with his idea about schools teaching kids from the waist up and eventually only one side of the head, I immediately understood. This is why I love the TPR (Total Physical Response) method in my foreign language classroom. It allows the kids to move and create movement to go with new vocabulary words in gestures and signs. Kids act out oral stories and create new ones using the TPRS (Total Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) method. This allows for more movement and gives children the ability to create new stories with humor and amazing twists with the more language they have. I also loved his anecdote about the dancer because I know that my teenagers are not all ADHD, but some are dancers and athletes who need movement to think and create. I try to foster this activity in class to promote learning and creativity at the same time. Thanks for the video!

  74. This made me laugh and it made me think. Sir Robinson is very witty yet he made some powerful thought-provoking assertions about schools inadvertently and sometimes advertently killing creativity. Right now, the first things to go when a school system has to budget is the art and music program. Somethings we cannot control so we as educators must adapt and do our best to encourage students to be creative. I am a writer. I could not imagine living in a world without a Poe, without Shakespeare without Langston Hughes without art. I don’t want to live in a world like that.

  75. I think Sir Robinson has a great sense of humor and uses it wisely when delivering this presentation. I agree that intelligence is diverse and that creativity is part of intelligence and should be encouraged and not discouraged. I agree that our schools should focus more on the arts and regard them as academic disciplines capable of helping children discover their talents. Too often, schools regard math and science as the only means of succeding in today’s world. I believe society needs to treat the arts with more respect, and then schools will have to focus more on these disciplines as academic disciplines and not as “special area disciplines/elective classes” for children to take. I think children sense that their interests and talents in the arts will not always be rewarded, and naturally become discouraged. I think Sir Robinson’s ideas are similar to Howard Gardner’s and his theory of multiple intelligences. Hopefully, more schools will make stronger efforts to integrate the arts into their school curricula as academic disciplines. I enjoy this video.

  76. First, let me say that I agree that Sir Robinson is funny, entertaining, and on target with many of his comments. While schools can stifle creativity, it is usually individual teachers that help the process. For example, a Kindergarten teacher needs to make certain a student has mastered their color words. Do they ask them to identify individual words such as “yellow” or “blue” or do they make-up a game or give the students a choice about how they will idnetify their words such as drawing their own unique rainbow when the teacher shows the color word? Part of the solution to teachers and schools being accoutnable to certain terms, objectives, tests, and standards, is the way in which we present them to the students and then allow them to present it back to us. The more creativity that we use, the more creativity will be created in the child.

  77. I totally agree with Sir Robinson. Creativity is very important for a child’s education because it is just another way to show how intelligent that child could be. I do not think that the schools intentionally kill creativity, but due to the standards of No Child Left Behind, it has benn implicitly written into the school curriculum.

  78. I agree with his opinions. School restricts students so much these days. Do this project. This way. Just like this. The freedom to create and to let the students minds be free is reduced to a time schedule between TCAP and SAT tests.

  79. Hee hee. This guy is pretty funny. I agree and disagree… I do believe that schools have a way of inadvertently “killing” creativity, but in a way, how can this be avoided? There is so much to teach and so little time in a day.
    I also think the allowance of creativity has to do with how creative teachers are. As teachers, we must be open-minded and we must teach our students to be open-minded and to take other perpectives as well. We have to encourage students to use their imaginations and we have to allow choices when asking the children to express what they think and what they are learning. We need to prompt them to express themselves and support them when they do. We need to ask them what they think and really listen to why. We should not punish or negate different thinking or creativity.

  80. Yes, I would have to say that I do agree with him. Education does kill many creative aspects that many children have. When a child talks too much we punish them, and we don’t give them a creative outlet to express those conversations. We many times keep children in their desk, and don’t allow them to move around as they should. All of the Arts have been cut, or simply do not exist. I learned this summer in an instutute that teachers not only have the responsibility to promote academics, but there is a social aspect that we must not ignore as well. This has really tied everthing together, and really completes the circle of educating. We must encourage the academic, social, and creative being all at once. I feel that if these areas were addressed more and on a consistnat basis, there would be more success in all schools as opposed to failures.

  81. I also agree with Sir Ken’s assertions, and many of you all as well. Being a teacher myself, not to mention a creative one, I strongly feel that children should be able to express themselves creatively. I feel that schools do kill a child(ren) creativness a lot more than it allows it. Like Gene said” i do not think that it is done on purpose, but it’s done”. Because schools are so structured, and on such a rush-rush bases, they do not allow children to apply their full creative side, whether it be in drama, music, sports,writing, or whatever. Children these days are so, well forced to exceed a certain standard, untill they are scared to make a mistake, mess up or to even be original. If more teacher spent their time thinking creatively, there would be more creative thinkers, and doers.
    I really loved the film and it gave me with a lot of insight that will surley make me a better teacher.

  82. I agree. I think they often put too much focus though on the national standards and test scores rather than letting the students express themselves as individuals. Thats why I think it is necessary to keep sports, art, and music in the school systems so that the students have a way to show their talent and creativity.

  83. I do agree Sir Robinson that creativity is very importatn. I believe that a child should be able to express themselves. I do think that schools do kill the creativity in students to a certain extent. I do not think that this is done on purpose, but it is done. I liked his statement that you could not be afraid to be wrong and children are not afraid of being wrong, but that school teaches them to be afraid of being wrong. I think that this is true and it can hinder a child while they are trying to learn. They could become afraid of trying to express themselves for fear of being wrong. I think that this could kill the creativity in a student.

  84. I agree with Sir Robinson when he says that creativity is just as important as literacy. Allowing a child to express his/her creativity helps the child define themselves as a person and also helps with character building.

  85. He is wonderful. Children should be allowed to be kids & express their creativity. Moving, running, jumping, & dancing are healthy mentally, physically, & emotionally. Creativity can enhance sociability. If we loathe sitting in a chair all day at a desk, why should we force our children to do it?

  86. I agree wholeheartedly with Sir Robinson. I have felt for years that schools have placed more emphasis on academics than arts. The schools seem to feel that if students want to do something outside of school work, they can enroll in sports. There are so many talents in other fields, and it is to the detriment of our society to ignore them for the sake of higher test points and more federal money.

  87. I think Sir Robinson brings up a very good point that most of us have not noticed. I don’t think that our education system is purposefully killing creativity. However, I think that we have focused so much on academic achievement, that we have lost sight of the way that children naturally learn the subjects that interest them. Instead of teaching students to be successful people, we are teaching them to be successful students.

  88. Sir Robinson had several good thoughts throughout his video. One point he made was that students “are frightened that they may be wrong or may make a mistake.” I feel that this is where the teacher should become the encourager. There may be students that think their idea is not as good as the next person. Teachers should emphasize that there are no dumb ideas or thoughts. Creative writing and projects should play a large role in most courses.

    I don’t necessarily think that schools are killing creativity, but they may not be doing all they can do. I think alot of testing is multiple choice and there are not enough open-ended questions that allow students to use their creativity.

  89. I do think a lot of children these days are not being able to use their brains to be creative. I do not think schools are intentionly doing this but the schools generally are just worried about the math and sciences. I think that is because they want the students to be able to use those skills to be great leaders in the future. My thought is that kids should be able to use their creative minds to come up with ideas for the classroom. I think no idea is ever to stupid or crazy as long as it stays within the requirements for the project.

  90. This is a great video, and it is very inspiring. I want my students to be creative. I want to be able to use technology to encourage my students’ creativity.

  91. Pingback: Clif's Notes
  92. I’m glad to hear that, TeachingInMemphis. You were already a great teacher, so your students are in for a super year.

  93. Like Carol, I really, really, really don’t want to admit it, but I think Sir Robinson makes a very strong case for his assertions. I agree with Kerry that the educational system doesn’t set out to kill creativity, but most of us do seem to become less creative over time.

    Today’s post along with your 08/01/07 post have emboldened me to be an even better teacher this school year. Thanks for the encouragement, Clif.

  94. I think his story about the child drawing a picture of God perfectly exemplifies his entire point. Unfortunately, I think it’s nearly impossible to disagree with his assertions.

  95. Yes, I agree with Sir Ken’s (as he is also known) assertions. I don’t think that the educational system intends to “kill creativity” but I do think that it does get inadvertently squashed.

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