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

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. Dan is also a columnist for TalentZoo.com and the author of View From The Cheap Seats and Killer Executions and Scrubbed Decks.