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Schools Kill Creativity

Questions for discussion:

  1. Which school subjects do you think are the most important?
  2. Are subjects like art, drama P.E, or dance important or are they a waste of time?
  3. Were you creative when you were a child?
  4. Do you still consider yourself to be a creative and imaginative person? Explain.
  5. Did you enjoy school? What were the best and worst things about your school days?
  6. Are you satisfied with the quality of Russian schools? Is Russian education system good enough or could it be improved? Explain your answer.
  7. Did you have interests or talents when you were younger that you were discouraged from pursuing? What did you want to be when you grew up?
  8. Were you encouraged to pursue a wide range of interests when you were at school?
  9. Were you allowed to do the things that you really wanted to do?
  10. How do you think your life would be different now if you had taken a different course when you were younger? Were there any opportunities that you regret not taking?
  11. If you could go back to your school days, what subjects would you take this time?


Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn't matter where you go. You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth. And in pretty much every system too, there's a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet that teaches dance every day to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not?

I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting? Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads. And slightly to one side.

Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there's a reason. The whole system was invented -- around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician; don't do art, you won't be an artist. Benign advice -- now, profoundly mistaken.

The second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they're not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can't afford to go on that way.

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