Killing creativity with education


Educators are starting to realize the need to teach students how to think. Creativity has been squashed for so long in the traditional 19th century education model of: listen, read, memorize, regurgitate, repeat. Of great concern is the need to develop a generation of people who can synthesize old knowledge and original ideas into something new. Conferences, books, courses, webinars, and blogs about education are discussing this topic, but not a lot of action is being taken.


Disciplines are hierarchical and separate (Rainie, 2011) creativity is often relegated to the arts silo. Rainie asserts the need for conversations between disciplines within academic institutions in order to transform education into a system useful for the 21st century. 

Let’s examine instructional practices. Even in progressive schools in which “cross-discipline studies” occur (for instance, between History and English programs), the basic unit of instruction remains the discipline (e.g. Math, Science, Foreign Languages, etc.). We do not find schools organized according to themes, problems, or areas around which knowledge might be organized. In the larger society, problems do not show up demarcated by discipline (Bidga-Peyton, 2010).

Sir Ken Robinson thinks that the current system of education kills creativity:

Schools kill creativity

Schools kill creativity

We know that education is largely stuck in the past, and we have identified the goal, but how do get there? If we cannot overcome the fear of failure and do not know how to be innovative, we need to ask the experts. Artists have the creativity and are not afraid to use their imaginations. “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them,” Albert Einstein.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Ursula K. Le Guin


Bigda-Peyton, T. (2010, September 20). The problem of education: can a 19th century model succeed in a 21st century world? [Blog post]. An Economy of Meanings: the official blog of some really neat ideas. Retrieved from

Rainie, L. (2011, October 18). Libraries and learning communities [Video and slides]. Pew Internet: Internet Librarian Conference. Retrieved from

Robinson, K. (2006, February) Do schools kill creativity? TED: Technology, education, design. Retrieved from


Creative adult. Retrieved from

Education system. Retrieved from

School thought bubbles. Retrieved from