The Importance of Creativity in the Classroom: a School Director’s Reflection

Guest contributor Maureen Israel is YES Prep’s Northside’s School Director. This post originally appeared as an introduction to YES Prep Northside’s staff notes.

Nine years ago I was introduced to Sir Ken Robinson during a class in graduate school. The year prior, he had become “education famous” with a TED Talk about creativity in schools. His work in education has spanned decades, and he has worked with governments in a variety of countries to weave creativity and innovation into economic and education development. Googling his name will bring up a myriad of talks, and I encourage you to listen to his take on creativity in education:

This past week, I had the chance to see Sir Ken Robinson speak again about the importance of creativity in education, and I wanted to share some of his insights, as they continue to resonate with me and the work we do each day:

  • Too often conformity replaces creativity in education; we find ourselves rewarding compliance in lieu of diversity.
  • Conformity is a device we mistakenly apply to reach success. In actuality, diversity is the norm, not conformity.
  • Academic ability (e.g. reading and writing) is often mistaken for intelligence. By taking this narrow view of ability, we actually widen our vision of inability. We are telling kids they are “not right” and “not good enough,” when, in actuality, what we’ve determined to be “right” and “good” is a narrow portion of true intelligence.
  • Education is about learning. If there is no learning, there is no education. The role of the teacher is not to impart information, but to facilitate learning.
  • MaureenWhen we stigmatize mistakes, we educate students out of their creative capacities. There are no professions in the world where we don’t practice and experience mistakes first before creating a final product; yet we expect students to perform with “no mistakes” the first time they’re introduced to material.
  • We need the best possible individuals to be dedicated to the art of teaching. Those who facilitate learning with our students should be learners themselves.

Thank you for committing to being learners, to being champions for ALL our students, and for embracing a diversity of experience and ability.


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