Thursday, July 24, 2014

Is Your School or District in the Business of Suppressing Creativity and Genius?

"Why would anyone want to suppress genius? Well, it is not intentional. It is not a plot. Genius is an innocent casualty in society's efforts to train children away from natural born foolishness." Gordan MacKenzie, Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace

Is your school or district engaged in what Gordan MacKenzie calls "suppression of creative genius?" In his book entitled Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool's Guide to Surviving with Grace, MacKenzie, who once worked as a cartoonist and for Hallmark Greeting Cards, describes a visit he had with elementary school children. During those visits he reported that when he asked first graders who saw themselves as artists to raise their hands, and the children leapt en mass from their chairs with their hands flying.

When he asked the same question of second graders, he says about half the kids raised their hands with less enthusiasm.

When he asked third graders to raise their hands if they were artists, at best, "10 kids out of 30 raised their hands." And, they raised their hands tentively and self-consciously, MacKenzie noted.

MacKenzie noted that as the grades he spoke to went higher, fewer children raised their hands, so that by the time he reached sixth graders, only one or two raised their hands, and they did so with the demeanor of being "closet artists."

What exactly are we doing to our kids? Are we "educating the artist, the musician, the sculptor" out of our students by progressively subjecting them to "education" that is garuarnteed to destroy imagination, inventiveness, and creativity?

All of us fondly remember those times in elementary school when we called ourselves writers, artists, or musicians. Then standardized education happened to us; it literally stamped the creativity out of us. How dare we engage in orginal thought! How dare we think outside-the-box! My fears are with all this emphasis on having a "standardized curriculum and testing" we are still very much in the business of "training children away from natural born foolishness." Too bad! Let's just hope we don't kill the dreams of the next Steve Jobs or Mozart!


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