Do Schools Kill Creativity?

One of the great joys of my job as a writer is the opportunity I have to connect with other writers and creative thinkers. Social media has made this ability to connect nearly seamless, and I find myself grateful and in awe of the people I can interact with on a day to day basis online. Some of those people I’ve even had the privilege to meet in person, and I can now call them friend.

And I have talented friends.

This week I’ve been reading Tsh Oxenreider’s book, Notes From a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. The book is great, and has given me plenty of pause to stop and think about how to live this life with intention and purpose in a world that sometimes feels like it’s propelling you forward full speed ahead.

In her chapters on education, Tsh points readers to a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. This particular TED talk has been seen over 26,000,000 times, and after watching the 18 minute video, I can understand why. He’s funny, engaging, amiable, and he makes a heck of a lot of sense.

The title of the talk is How Schools Kill Creativity.


It sounds like it would be a terrible public school rant, doesn’t it? Indeed, it’s not. Sir Ken is not out to bash the public school system, so much as to discuss the need for a massive paradigm shift.

I was so enthralled by Robinson’s assertions in this video, that I went on to watch all of his talks posted at, and each one of them bore the same central message:

Education must feed the spirit, and the energy, and the passion of each individual child so that learning can truly take place.

For some students, school really can be a magical place. The structure, the books, the sense of accomplishment and the broadening horizons of new things known feeds their souls.

And for some, school crushes the spirit.

It’s very difficult to be a parent trying to decide how to best educate her children in this day and age. On the one hand, there are so many options. We aren’t relegated to a one size fits all approach if we don’t want to be. We can choose differently for our kids.

On the other hand, there is so much information being thrown at us about what is best, how children learn, how to cultivate a love for learning, and so much of it is contradictory that we start to feel the smoke billow from our ears as information overload quickly shuts us down.

So what do we do?

I don’t have an answer for you here other than to say, I don’t think anyone can truly claim that they have found the be all, end all solution to education. There is no one right way to educate all children, because they are all different. So how do we choose? How do we guide them down this path of learning that actually gives flight to their natural bent, and speaks to their individual spirit?

I will say that it is very, very hard to do this in a public school setting. That’s not an indictment against the public school. All three of my children are currently publicly educated, and for us, for now, this is what works. But I see the gaps, and I cringe at the holes. I see the cookie cutter mentality, and the severe focus on standardized tests that have crippled our teachers, and stifled education. My job as the parent of public school children is to fill in those gaps when and how I can.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this matter, and ask that we could do so with respect for one another’s different choices in education. Do you think that schools kill creativity? Do you see gaps in your children’s education and growth as individuals? How do you work to fill in those gaps? What are your challenges as you face the choice of where and how your children should be educated?

I would love to hear your experiences.

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