Thursday, 19 February 2009

'How secondary schools stop kids being creative...'

This little article makes interesting - though not surprising - reading. I expect a reasonably intelligent person would find similar creativity-crushing influences in a primary school if they knew what they were looking for.

About 4 years ago I read an article by an author/researcher who believed that the restriction on weapon/hero/adventure play in nurseries and schools was stifling boys' creativity. When I discussed it with someone at the time, they thought it was a total overexaggeration. I'm not so sure; I remember the time when my nearly-5 year old ds1 decided to stop drawing aeroplanes after one of the private nursery staff told him he mustn't draw guns on it. Considering he'd barely lifted a writing implement until a few months previous, it was such a frustratingly annoying thing and my heart went out to my little boy.

Anyway, back to the article in the blog title...I've snipped a bit of the original, to give the gist of it:

'How secondary schools stop kids, especially boys, being creative - by a top children's author' The Times Online 9 Feb

"To be creative, you have to be wrong most of the time. Unfortunately, being wrong doesn’t go down very well at school. In fact, I think creativity is being educated out of kids when they get into Secondary School, and it’s a big problem....

...I often get the impression that teachers are drawn to the ideas from their girl pupils, whereas the imaginative world of the boys seems mysterious – sometimes even dangerous. I can sympathise with teachers who are afraid to be seen to be encouraging violent thoughts. But most boys’ imaginations run most quickly to two extremes: the violent and the absurd. I happen to think that’s exciting, but teachers seem to want to foster creativity within certain ‘safe’ parameters. Creativity is not safe.

I would love to see, in the context of an English lesson, the classroom transformed into an environment which rewards wacky, crazy-stupid and yes, even sometimes violent ideas. Until it is, boys’ creativity will continue to be ‘educated’ out of them at the upper end of Primary Schools and the lower end of Secondary Schools. And they will continue to give up on reading..."


Jax said...

I started reading a book about that kind of thing, called We don't play with guns here: War, Weapon and Superhero Play in the Early Years which was utterly fascinating. When I tried to discuss it in the staff meeting (this was when I was working in the Montessori school) I got shouted down that we absolutely were not going to relax the guidelines, despite any evidence that they were wrong :(

Big mamma frog said...

Yes! I think what I read was a newspaper article refering to this book. Thank you! Now I know what to search for. The article made so much sense to me I really wanted to read the book and find out more. Can't help thinking that boys in particular get a rough deal through preschool and school. Though I guess the girls pay for their 'compliance' (actively encouraged) in later years.

Deb said...

What an interesting article - and yes, thinking about what my own boys write, I think he's absolutely right. I also suspect that the creativity disappears as the work-load increases - there seems little time to lie on your bed and stare at the ceiling and day-dream.

Big mamma frog said...

Yes and 'day-dreaming' has such negative overtones nowadays, doesn't it? As if it's just a wasteful unproductive way to spend time. I actually think day-dreaming (or whatever you want to call it) is probably the time when most of the 'processing' of information goes on; it's that precious time when abstract links are allowed to form and when creative ideas and inspiration can just pop up.