Do Schools Stifle Creativity and Dreams?

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This morning, when I was watching Ken Robinson’s “Do school kill creativity?”  TED TALK he  made a statement that piqued my curiosity. He said,

“Many creative, brilliant, talented people think they are not, because everything they were good at school wasn’t valued or was stigmatized”.

Okay. Imagine this: A classroom filled with students. The teacher after dishing out some mathematical theories and formulas went ahead and gave a test. Some students were talented when it comes to calculation, others were just okay, and some students totally sucked at mathematical calculations. The teacher rate every students work. Some got an A, others B, some D while the rest got a big fat F.

The students who got A’s are applauded for their wonderful performance; they now believe they are very much brilliant than others but those who got an F…Well, they start to feel like they are losers and aren’t good enough.

When I was in Grade 4, my teacher once told me, “You see these stories you keep writing? They won’t get you anywhere if you keep getting poor grades in school”.
You see, I was just seven years old then but that statement alone demoralized me so much that I stopped writing and focused on school work.

There is this quote that I love; I am not sure who actually said it. It says;

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

You know why right? A fish CANNOT climb. It’s like asking a monkey that is very perfect in climbing trees to go swimming. The monkey will definitely get drowned.

That’s exactly how we humans are. We all have our niche; something we are so good at. But you see, our educational system places much emphasis on academic subjects that our natural gifts are brushed aside and dumped in a waste bin. We are told, “You can never make out a living doing them”, just like my Grade 4 teacher had told me.

In schools, we are being programmed like robots; listen to teachers/lecturers dish out lessons and theories; some even read directly from the textbooks like they are newscasters; they give us notes to copy and then at the end of the day we ought to memorize every damn information in our notes and textbooks, take a test and pour out all we had crammed.

One week later, ask us what we read, we can’t even remember and the cycle goes on and on.
If by chance, you aren’t successful in the test/exam, the school system deems you a failure. You hide your face in shame and conclude that you are a loser.
It’s so sad that in our battle and pursuit for good grades, degrees and certificates, we have lost the true meaning of creativity.

Tests and exams aren’t a yardstick for checking creativity. It goes beyond that. Creativity means thinking out of the box, breaking boundaries and seeing beyond the ordinary.

In schools, we are taught to be scared of making mistakes. There is only one answer and if you are wrong, it’s one of the worst things that can ever happen to you. You don’t even get a chance to question most things you are taught. You just accept them hook, link and sinker. But how can anyone ever come up with something original if the person isn’t prepared to make mistakes?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to take a jab at teachers or school administrators. Truth is, they are doing their best to help us learn. The problem is just the way they go about it.

Perhaps if the same emphasis placed on academic subjects is placed on helping students develop their natural gifts, it will create more opportunities for divergent thinking.

And maybe, we won’t have a bunch of frustrated adults seated in their offices, tired of their jobs and wishing they were brave enough to go after their dreams. Don’t settle in a box.

20 thoughts on “Do Schools Stifle Creativity and Dreams?

  1. Just like Chinua Achebe’s things fall apart which is the most successful African novel which countless universities worldwide adopted as part of their school curricula just because the story Achebe tells in things fall apart appeal to every culture and race, so also does this exquisite article about schools stiffling creativity and dreams appeal not just to me but to universal consciousness. This is the best piece I ve read in a dozen years now…thumbs up Fina

  2. Our education system is bedevilled with lots of ills and maladies. A system that focuses not on who you are but on whom you are configured to become is bound to under-develop you.
    This has even become so pronounced that it now has an infamous cliche “school has to pass through you as you pass through school” to subtly express the worrisome situation that school is meant to crush your natural latent abilities and bull out “a new You.”
    The Nigerian Eduaction system, in particular, is like the proverbial rat-race. We just keep going forth and back with all Our “Nigerian factors” as garnishment.
    Our case is even worse as our people literally abhor “thinking out of the box ” in challenging the status quo of our fundamental and foundational institutions.
    We must make conscious efforts to spread this message and positively impact the lives of our future generation.
    In this regard, I wish to thank you fina for leading the way.

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