It is imperative that survival without education in this century is very difficult. Everybody needs at least a high school diploma to live a good life. However, very many people have put too much emphasis on predetermined goals of the curriculum at the expense of all the other human capabilities. Human beings can survive without necessarily having the conventionally respected academic qualifications.
However, they will not succeed by just sitting back. They will have to excel in other areas, especially using creativity. In the modern world, people can earn lots of money from their talents and other forms of art. According to Robinson, every child is born with creativity but loses it as he or she goes through the education system (K. Robinson, personal communication, June, 2006).
This argument confirms findings by several other researchers that the American education system is killing creativity in children. This paper demonstrates to all American citizens that their education system, especially the higher education system, is the biggest contributor to the deteriorating standards of creativity among learners in the country.
Creativity is a critical element of human life. Almost everything that people use and do in their daily lives is a result of creativity. Usually, creativity encompasses invention and art. Invention is responsible for technology, education and all the other things that human beings have created to make their lives comfortable. On the other hand, art entails music, drama, sports and all other forms of entertainment. Many people in the US and other parts of the world earn lots of money from art. Therefore, creativity is indispensable in the modern society.
The first thing that contributes to the lack of creativity among students is the kind of training teachers go through at the university in the US. According to Segesten (2013), the teachers only take a few subjects at the university. Hence, they can only teach the students what they learned at the university.
This state of affairs means such teachers cannot help their learners develop creativity in areas they do not know. In the long-run, the students learn vicariously that they do not need to read widely. A good education system should be broad-based. It should include all the aspects of real-life (Bronzaft, 2006).
The other contributing factor is the teaching methods used in class. Many of them are very fixed and outdated. Segesten (2013) argues that many teachers in high schools teach their students through rote memorization. She argues that such crude methods of teaching are mainly meant to help the students pass exams and get good jobs. Worse still, the exams are nationalized and standardized by national bodies.
According to Segesten (2013), standardization and nationalization of exams encourages dangerous competition. The students only think about grades. McGill (2006) agrees with this argument by insisting that private schools do better than public schools because they have adopted creativity in their curriculums. Robinson also concurs with this assertion. He criticizes the education systems in all the countries in the world for concentrating on producing winners and university professors at the expense of developing human capabilities.
It is also imperative that the higher education curriculum in the US neglects developing students’ talents and only concentrates on the academic curriculum. Robinson gives an example in his speech to demonstrate how the education system discourages talent development in favor of the curriculum (K. Robinson, personal communication, June, 2006). According to him, teachers should encourage music, plays and other talents.
He goes further to argue that the teachers should allow learners to make mistakes and add their ideas to the texts they encounter in the course of the learning process. I agree with Robinson that concentrating on the curriculum kills many talents that can help students who are not good in classwork. I also agree with him that making mistakes is part of the learning process.
Also, the American higher education system has tolerated conformity at the expense of creativity. Many students enter the university with conformist mentalities. Ironically, they leave the university with the same mentalities. Though Segesten blames high schools and elementary schools for this situation, I strongly feel otherwise.
According to her, the selection system sends to the university students who passed exams with the help of rote memorization. I am of the opinion that higher education is the right place for human beings to get rid of conformist ideologies. The human mind develops in stages. By the time somebody joins college, his or her mind is mature enough to distinguish right from wrong. Therefore, professors should take advantage of this stage to encourage creativity among their students.
The other factor worth noting is the hierarchical arrangement of subjects and the regard for the four-year college education. Many Americans value some subjects more than others. Mostly, they favor mathematics and sciences at the expense of arts. Teachers usually remind their students to put in more effort in these subjects more than others (Livingstone, 2010).
According to Robinson, whenever the students perform poorly in these subjects, their teachers and parents consider the failure an enormous crisis (K. Robinson, personal communication, June, 2006). Billitteri (2009) concurs with this conception by arguing that some courses are more lucrative than other.
He gives the example of medicine courses as being more paying than other university courses. However, I believe there are many people earning more than what doctors make from playing basketball, football, music and other talents. Therefore, it is possible to live a good life without necessarily doing well in “good” subjects or taking “lucrative” courses.
On the contrary, some people argue that institutions of higher learning should not carry the blame for the deterioration of creativity in the US. Instead, they blame elementary schools and high schools for this predicament. They argue that universities and colleges have diversified their curriculum and co-curriculum activities in order to foster creativity. As already mentioned in this paper, Segesten is one of the strongest proponents of this argument.
This position is not correct because one of the mandates of universities and colleges is the creation of an environment that promotes research and creativity. Therefore, transforming conformist students into non-conformist graduates should not be a problem for them. Learners at high school and elementary school levels are not mature and knowledgeable enough to come up with their ideas in everything they do, though teachers should start introducing them to free-thinking (Kesten, 2006).
It is right for them to use people’s ideas at this level before learning to create theirs at college level. Some also argue that the drama club and all other performances help build creativity among the students. However, as Robinson argues, teachers usually ask the students to reproduce everything they give them. They do not allow them to add their creativity to the scripts.
In summary, instilling creativity in American students must intensify at the university level. Universities should develop wide courses for teachers to expose them to a broad field of knowledge. In addition, they must be encouraged to use modern ways of teaching and get rid of the traditional methods such as memorization. All the citizens of the US should also know that they do not have to be good at mathematics and sciences or take medicine to live good lives because they can achieve the same goal using talents and creativity.
Billitteri, T. (2009). The value of a college education. CQ Researcher, 19(41) 993-998.
Bronzaft, A. (2006). Creativity in higher education [letter to the editor]. New York Times, p. 40.
Kesten, R. (2006). Creativity in higher education [letter to the editor]. New York Times, p. 40.
Livingstone, L. (2010). Teaching creativity in higher education. Arts Education Policy Review, 111(1), 59-62. DOI: 10.1080/10632910903455884
McGill, J. (2006). Creativity and the global employee [letter to the editor]. New York Times, p. 40.
Robinson, K. (2006). Ken Robinson: How schools kill creativity.
Segesten, A. (2013). Creativity in education [Blog post].