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Education - How the Western System Stifles Creativity

Updated on July 27, 2013
Figure 1: Hierarchy of subjects
Figure 1: Hierarchy of subjects

Issues surrounding Western education systems

Recent studies have shown that the western education is lacking in relation to maturing young talent through the different stages of the curriculum. As a result of this; children are eventually educated out of creativity.

Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson states that it is possible to be educated out of creativity until you are no longer as creative as you once were as a child. He also mentioned that every education system in the world has the same hierarchy of subjects (see Figure 1).

In most schools, subjects at the lower end of the spectrum are viewed as inferior to subjects on the higher end; when in actuality they are just as important. Consequently, not much time or enthuses is spent on developing students into artists and athletes.

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

2012 was the first time that A*-C results had fallen in the exam’s history (Guardian). Could standardised testing be the cause of this?

In standardised testing pupils are taught based on what they will be tested on. It does not help in the development of creativity as creativity is impossible to measure or give points to. Examining boards have total control on the grading system; enabling them to rise or lower grade boundaries for subject.

Could Montessori and Steiner education systems be a solution?

Montessori education theory and Steiner education have proven to be successful in nurturing creativity.

Founded by Dr Maria Montessori; her theory allows children to: have freedom over learning; become independent; and understand the importance of being responsible. More than one teacher in the classroom allows pupils to have one-on-one time and personalised grades. The age span of pupils within the classroom allows the older children to teach younger children.

Founded by Rudolf Steiner; Steiner education views each pupil as an individual and equally takes into account the child’s physical, emotional, intellectual, cultural and spiritual needs in every phase of their development. There is a balance of artistic, practical and intellectual content. Children of mixed ability attend the same classes.


“All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”
- Pablo Picasso

Food for thought...

Although some critics may say that academic subjects encourage creativity. In order to stifle the loss creative children in schools, the western educational system should be less bureaucratic and implement parts of Montessori education / Steiner education systems into its practices.

Whilst it is a huge risk and high cost to change western education systems; it is important for creative activities to be implemented in schools in to keep pupils motivated to learn and to mature into confident, innovative and responsible individuals.

Your thoughts...

Do you think that changing the education system will boost creativity in children?

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