Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Ken Robinson’s TED Talk entitled Do Schools Kill Creativity explores an over explored topic. It is no longer a question of whether or not creativity should be emphasized for students. Instead, we face the dilemma of determining how to stimulate creativity while still being able to assess knowledge acquisition. Separating strict creativity promotion from the school setting is one way to do this.

Robinson argues fear of mistakes leads children from a creative state to an uncreative one. He gives the weighted statement that unless someone is willing to be wrong, they will never come up with original ideas. There may be truth to this statement, but his argument is pointless when he offers no alternative education system promoting creativity without making other subjects suffer. One could argue in favor of an increase in artistic education through dance, theater, etc., but the school system is already under attack for not focusing on subjects with direct applicability (as can be seen in the videos discussed in my last blog entry). While it is necessary for the advancement of a society, creativity is difficult to promote in schools because of the need to endow children with certain measureable knowledge; the success of schools and the extent to which children receive knowledge can only be found by testing children on their understanding of a topic. Creativity, because it cannot be tested or measured, should take less precedence to other subjects, in schools. The school should be a place to introduce creative thinking, not enforce it.

To promote creativity without taking away from the introduction of more tactile topics, extracurricular activities should be emphasized for our youth. They allow students to explore topics of true interest without the fear of failure mentioned by Robinson. In addition, because extracurriculars are optional, they allow a student to determine their own level of involvement. Requiring a subject be taught takes away a students’ sense of ownership in it. Teaching students to practice creativity is not only important for the advancement of human thought on a large scale, but also for the increase of intrinsic motivation in individuals. Creative hobbies allow students to explore the things that make them curious in their own way. Creativity should be encouraged through extracurricular activities because true creativity can be neither measured nor forced.


Thank you for reading my post! The issue of creativity in schools is one of great weight. There is no one right answer, or else we would no longer be faced with the problem. What do you think the answer is to increasing creativity in schools?

About the Author

Melissa Martin is a sophomore at UNCC pursuing dual degrees in psychology and English. Her talents include eating multiple Cosmic Brownies a day without tiring of them and slipping the word “incredible” into every conversation. She is incredibly fond of her friends, family, and reading.