Why Sir Ken Robinson Thinks Schools Are a Barrier to Creativity

This is the first episode in the series of interviews by Sarah Montague. She interviews the people whose ideas are challenging the future of education and this first episode was with Sir Ken Robinson.

Sir Ken Robinson has advised governments and businesses around the world on how to harness creativity, and believes if schools were radically different, giving creative subjects equal status, children would find their true talents.

In conversation with Sarah Montague, Sir Ken Robinson shares his belief that schools too often crush creative talent of their pupils. He argues that modern teaching is a product of industrialization, putting children through a factory model that prepares them for working life. He clarifies that the curriculum should not be narrow and should not only focus on a group of subjects and he also speaks about the different purpose of education.

 “Creativity is as important in Education as Literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” – Sir Ken Robinson

Sarah: In what way do schools stifle creativity in students?

Sir Ken: I don't think this is deliberate, it's not the policy of the government or intention of the head teacher, I am not holding individual educators responsible. It's a problem of the general culture of education, it's the way the curriculum has become narrowed to favor a particular type of intelligence. That means you don't happen to think in that sort of way, you can end up thinking you are not very smart and your ideas don’t really count.

Sarah: Your argument is that schools are not serving what students need.

My argument is that one of the purposes of education is economic – we know that. Education also has very important cultural roles – it’s the way of passing our cultural genes, traditional and values whichever culture we happen to be from. Then it has social roles, to have forms of education that engage people in the world around them and help them become responsible citizens. But none of them works if we forget the main role of education which is “personal” – education is about people, it’s about human beings. And the minute we lose sight of that, and start to think only of international league tables and data points we lose sight of the real dynamics of the heart of education.

Listen to the full episode here. Do check out “The Educators” – Great Episodes for Educators across the globe.


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