The Student Room Group

Do schools encourage creativity?

Do schools encourage creativity?

Those familiar with popular TED Talks may notice the similarity with the most watched TED Talk of all time.

The late great Sir Ken Robinson long argued that schools kill creativity. That systems of schooling whose systems originally revolved around the routines of factories doesn't have enough capacity to support creativity.

Think about the way your school is/was run. Do you think creativity was something that was encouraged? Or discouraged?

To go even deeper, is conformity the opposite of creativity? Can they co-exist?

Conformity is obviously something that is necessary to some extent within a school - do you think that the need for conformity oppresses young people's creativity?

It's a big question, have a think and share your thoughts.

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I don’t think it’s encouraged no. I used to be a lot more creative and imaginative when I was younger, but I’ve realised that particularly since entering the exam-intensive phases of education (GCSE and onwards), my brain has become more stale.
It depends upon the school.
Some school encourage older students to express their creativity via art, drama, food technology, music and other performing arts.
Offering significant opportunities for such students to compete for awards, bursaries, scholarships and the chance to participate in relevant competitions.
I definitely don't think the "learning to the exam" format inspires much creativity, either in general terms of just creative thinking/approaches to things, and also I think the emphasis on exam based subjects and examinable content has had it's part in the sidelining of creative arts subjects in schools. I think conformity in a social sense is less the issue than the huge emphasis on exam taking and preparation that exists in the UK, compared to other countries. I was discussing this with a friend of mine from the US who has been involved in teaching for undergrads there and is in a parallel programme to the teacher training masters at his uni in Germany and says compared to there to, the emphasis on exam taking in the UK and "teaching to the exam" is really extreme.

Of course the US and German education systems have their own issues too, but I do think there is a middle ground to be had - I did IB after GCSEs here and it was much improved on that front compared to GCSE I found. The scope of the syllabus allowed a lot more flexibility on the part of the teachers for things like English in terms of what texts they taught, and the IAs gave a fair bit of scope for exploring different areas and topics that weren't wholly prescribed by the exam board (or IBO in this case). I get the impression coursework elements have shrunk in GCSEs and A-levels after the reforms which I suspect plays a part in this.

In IB English lit for example, we had compulsory world lit coursework and an oral that we could basically choose which text(s) we worked on (within some constraints i.e. at least one world lit essay had to be comparative, and some texts weren't applicable to all of those assessments) and what our actual coursework title was. So most people ended up writing/presenting quite different things, and not everyone within our class was writing on the same combination of texts. Likewise for the final exam the questions were very general genre based questions that could be answered with any number of texts, because schools had such flexibility in choosing what texts to be studied - which meant you weren't just basically focused wholly one one or two texts with a handful of expected possibilities for exam questions, but could really "own" the essay question and make it your own with how you approached it and which texts that you had studied you chose to use.

Outside of that, in terms of conformity in social terms and creativity in terms of the creative arts, while I do think they are opposed in some respects, they aren't incompatible and I think it's more of a cycle/reflexive relationship between them. Often times art is used to be challenge or break from the status quo, and provided the status quo isn't explicitly harmful then having something to then challenge in that manner isn't a bad thing. The important thing is allowing students the platform to do that by giving them some elements of e.g. independent study/working in both the arts and beyond.

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