I watched this very entertaining and thought-provoking video on TED by Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in creative and cultural education. He talked about how children don’t need to be taught to be creative, because they already are — but schools are educating them out of their creative capacities.
On the subject of failure, he said: “Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong…If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. By the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies this way. We stigmatise mistakes.”
He went on to tell a story about Gillian Lynne, a dancer best known for her choreography of Cats and Phantom of the Opera. Lynne was apparently “really hopeless” in school. Her teachers told her parents she had a learning disorder — she couldn’t concentrate in class and couldn’t sit still. (She’d probably be diagnosed with ADHD today.)
Fortunately an enlightened therapist recognised that her weakness was actually a strength and recommended that her parents send her to dance school, which they did. In there she met a whole lot of other people who were just like her — they had to move to think. And the rest is history.
This is a perennial complaint too about the education system here. Our schools spend an inordinate amount of time teaching kids subjects that are supposedly going to make them good employees when they grow up, but spend too little time helping them to discover their God-given talents.
But I don’t just blame MOE for this sorry state of affairs. I think parents play a huge part in not just shaping the way the school system is, but the way our children approach learning as well. We all want what’s best for our children. But often times what we think is best is shaped by our societal indoctrination that academic excellence (mainly in maths and science) is the only route to success. I am convinced that you can’t be truly successful and satisfied in your career unless you’re doing something you really enjoy and are talented in.