Resources for applied linguistics and language teaching

Creativity and Education

Recently I showed a really interesting video to my advanced English class:

Schools kill creativity

It’s about education and creativity, and has a lot of potential for starting interesting discussion.  Actually, it was a bit above my students’ level (I’d shown it once before to another class and it worked better then) so in retrospect I think I should have shown it with Korean subtitles.  But we did have a good discussion in the end.  But one thing I noticed, was that when it came to creativity and education, almost all the students seemed to think creativity in education is limited to certain subjects, i.e. music, art, and physical education.  Likewise, they felt the only way to stimulate creativity in children is to teach them more music, more art, and more physical education.

I think they’re missing out on what creativity is and how it can be taught.  Perhaps they’re so used to the rote memorization style of learning in subjects like English, Korean, and even mathematics, that it’s hard for them to conceive of the role of creativity in these domains.  But emphasizing these subjects doesn’t necessarily mean that creativity needs to be neglected.  Rather it is the way these subjects that are taught that stifles creativity in them.

All subjects can include creativity.  English can be creative, even as a second language – writing and speaking are inherently creative.  Korean (as a first language) could be creative, if only the students were allowed to express their own ideas about the literature they read, or to write their own poems and stories.  Mathematics can be incredibly creative, if they were only taught to solve problems rather than solve formulas.  History can be creative, if students are encouraged to interpret history themselves.  Science can be creative, if students need to work out the steps of an experiment before doing it.

Education is more than just development of creativity, and there is a place for memorization, learning rules and formulas, and gaining knowledge.  But creative development should always be a key part of education – not only art and music education, but in all subjects.

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