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Are Public Schools Detrimental to Creativity?

Updated on May 6, 2011

Stifling Creativity

One of the most compelling reasons we all are stifled in our creative pursuits is due to public education and standardized testing. By the time we enter the first grade, we are told to sit down, shut up and regurgitate this and that.

As time moves on, we becomes victims to the standardized test. This means that we must spend copious hours working on and memorizing what is needed to pass a test the state requires to determine the amount of funding a school system will received the following year. Teachers contracts are also dependent upon the scores of their students and so they work to cram the seemingly "important" information into the heads of their pupils for several months of the year.

What this does is create a focus on what is important in learning by putting the focus on grades and scores, rather than thinking and analysis of information. I have heard more than once from students at the college level that they had never been asked their opinion about things, only thought the teachers opinion was right, and they needed to assimilate that and regurgitate it back on tests.

So where does our creative mind go and how are we being impacted by not being allowed to think for ourselves, formulate our own opinions and be a true individual? there are some teachers out there that do allow for this type of inspiration on the part of their students, but they are few and far between. From what I have seen the product of education over 12 years is curriculum centered and allows for very little wiggle room.

This has seriously impacted the state of the American psyche as evidenced by the tremendous lack of thinking on the part of the American public. Being spoon fed the answers for things, or simply ignoring the values of a liberal arts education has yielded a dumbing down of the American mind. We can see this weekly by the types of television programming we are fed, reality based television shows and simply obnoxious movies aimed at teenage dollars and inane styles.

If we continue to stifle our children by offering them the kind of trash we do, we know that GIGO will continue. (Garbage in, Garbage out). Children are now facing the demise of cursive writing, due to computers being the mainstay of our times. What happens if the world collapses or things change dramatically? How will these children cope?

The beauty of a creative mind begins its demise when we tell a child their stories, pictures, songs and imaginations need to be better, or put in check for more serious matters. Public Schools need to oust the standardized tests in favor of students being able to learn more about their own interests and how to research information so that they can be the critical thinkers we need for tomorrow.


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    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      I have to say I teach college literature and do it in a very different way than my colleagues do. It is online, so the forums of responses are posted online and the students banter there, offering their responses and making meaning. They are allowed to search for others meanings, but ask them to make their own first. I cannot tell you how many times I have been thanked for being open to them making their own meaning and then taking the piece and "moving it forward" into something relevant in their own lives. The bulk of the grade is these responses, and then they have two papers, creative papers to do, where they show me they understand the material via writing a letter to the author, or a character, or something much like this. They balk at first, then they tell me they LOVE it and have gleaned more than a test would have given them of the material important to them. It is a lovely give and take...and CAN be done! Thanks for commenting! I appreciate your response!

    • mrpopo profile image


      7 years ago from Canada

      "By the time we enter the first grade, we are told to sit down, shut up and regurgitate this and that."

      So very, very true. And sadly I find it gets even worse in college/university, especially with courses like biology that are structured in what I can only describe as "how much information can we pack in one course". And of course, making the students spit out that information, which most of the time is forgotten over the summer and needs to be reviewed anyway. Even if it somehow stayed fresh in memory, I don't understand how memorizing large amounts of data in short time periods is a measure of intelligence.

      I myself learn better by learning continuously over long periods of time. Knowledge is similar to food, in that it's better to eat small amounts throughout the day than large platefuls at certain times.

      A friend of mine sent me this article, and I find it resonates well with yours:

      In college, I find that our "opinions" are merely the teacher's opinions (or an article's, or a textbook's) and they are all repeated. I remember a psychology class where we talked about the hot streak fallacy in basketball and other students would always compare a player's hot streak in landing baskets to getting several heads on a series of coin tosses, as the article and the teacher described. None of them mentioned that there are other variables in a hot streak of baskets than a 50-50 of a coin toss, including the confidence being built by the player during the hot streak or apprehension of the streak ending. Both those emotional situations can affect how long a hot streak can go for, so it's not an entire logical fallacy to think that the player might be more or less likely to keep going on a hot streak.

      Anyway, I'm rambling. This was a good thought provoking Hub! Voted up!

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thank you Jean. I think politicians have no idea about social programs and the impact they have on everyone. And along with that, they demean the very people that teach the children and believe unions somehow are elitist. The whole thing is a travesty! Other countries do not have the same issues as we do....I hope your son finds work that is satisfying and provides a good wage. He deserves it!

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Aley,

      My son is currently looking for work as a teacher in NJ, and is certified in grades K-5. He's a creative person who hears the beat of a different drummer, but has the patience of a Saint with kids. He was shocked by how boring and outdated some of the teaching was in his student teaching. He volunteered in Charter Schools often during college when time permitted. Plus now with our Gov Christie trying to block teacher's unions, it's really bad. His kids go to private schools. I don't think bad teachers should be protected by tenure, but don't think people work for $45K a yr unless it's a calling. Christie had the nerve to say "teachers are why NJ is broken." Give me a break. Perhaps a merit based system would work. Good thoughts in your hub!

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      Thank you for coming by and commenting!

    • chspublish profile image


      7 years ago from Ireland

      Asking questions and being challenging is definitely a worthy pursuit of excellence. Standaridised anything certainly does not promote that. Thanks for the hub.


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