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Creativity is one of the most impactful factors during childhood. Playtime and friendships rely on creativity and make-believe during this period of time. Not only is it a staple of playtime, but also a major player in each child’s development.
The education system in America stresses the exact opposite, however. Standardized tests and lesson plans ensure that students limit their brain processes to a set track; their success measured by a distinct number scale.
The time of standardization is at an end, as job positions have started to demand more individuality and differentiation in their potential employees. Future leaders will come from a pool of creative individuals who are comfortable with intuition, thinking outside the box, and problem solving — not those with the highest test scores.
One of the biggest issues is how the regulation of the public school system is structured. Schools want the highest grade rate — always chasing an “A”. In order to get the best scores, it makes sense to have a common curriculum that can be effectively taught to the whole classroom as opposed to the egregious process of working with each student individually.
Along with this point, opening up to curricula focused on divergent thinking sets students up to fail. Yes this may sound bad, because who wants to fail? But failure is a key part of the creative learning process. Children learn from their mistakes and grow from them, gaining confidence and crucial problem-solving skills. This is the opposite of the current education system: students are discouraged from failure. Receiving a bad grade on a test encourages a student to do well on the next test but leaves them with a permanent educational scar — a drop in their Grade Point Average.
While most businesses are run by standardized processes, the economy relies on creative individuals. As society grows and changes, new problems show up and require new and innovative solutions. In the growing service market, job specialization is key! The capability to find such solutions cannot be taught using standardized tests and nationwide curricula, but must be learned through learning situations unique to the individual.
On a larger scale, creativity is an important part of feeling fulfilled. Leaving one’s mark on the world can be an immensely satisfying feeling. Having an impact with one’s work in a way that is unique from the impacts of others is key to feeling like a true individual.
Also, creativity is a team sport! There is so much focus on individual accomplishment in today’s education system that the need to work together is limited to the occasional group project. Being encouraged to engage with other students and contribute to a larger, creative solution to a problem can be an important learning experience.
As of right now, the education system of the 21st century is not structured to foster significant creativity in the American student population. Today’s students are not being prepared for the creative demands of modern society, instead their creativity is weighed beneath test scores and memorization.
Some experts say that a restructuring of the education system would be beneficial for students, as it would more properly prepare them for the specialization-focused workforce they are going into. Time will tell as workforce demands expect more and more creativity out of freshly graduated students; a move to creativity-based education may be well on its way.