Can Creativity Be Taught In Schools?

This article in BusinessWeek doesn’t deal with creativity as the advertising business knows it, but the idea that kids today need to be taught to be innovative thinkers. In an interview with Sir Ken Robinson, he talks about the importance of nurturing innovative solutions in the classroom:

Creativity is the latest buzzword in the corporate world. What’s your explanation?
The world is changing so quickly that promoting the ability for creative thinking and promoting cultural adaptability is essential. Remember that kids starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. We don’t have a clue about what the world will be like then.
The trouble is that the educational system isn’t designed to promote this sort of innovative thinking that we need. It is designed to promote uniformity and a certain type of narrow skill set. Creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy, and I actually think people understand that creativity is important — they just don’t understand what it is.
School reforms always emphasize standards and standardized testing, as if it’s akin to a McDonald’s franchise. But standardized testing demoralizes teachers, demoralizes students, and incents people to teach to the test. Standardized testing is based on the idea that we have to make education teacher-proof and I think we have to do the reverse.
What does that mean for business?
A lot of the secret of the creative corporation is looking hard at employees and realizing their strengths. When companies first start thinking about becoming creative, they tend to start thinking about hiring people from outside. They don’t think about the people they already have. And a lot of creativity is in helping people, whether students or employees, to find their talent — the way they are creative. Because most everyone is.

I’m still not convinced the large majority of institutions in our society are all that comfortable with the idea of creativity, because it digs right into the heart of challenging norms and disrupting conventional wisdom.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. Nice post, Danny G.
    It’s not just the institutions, it’s the people in them. What is a corporation but a body of workers?

  2. Here’s another piece on creativity from the Christian Science Monitor:
    “The music and film industries continue to battle over the need to expand copyright protection, and to limit sharing and reuse of prior work. The fashion industry, driven by similar market interests, employs a modus operandi that accepts rather than rejects derivation and appropriation as creative tools.
    The fashion industry long has accepted that creativity is too large and fugitive an essence to be owned outright as property.”