How Schools Kill Creativity

Contributed by Neleisha Weerasinghe

Mainstream Schools Stifling Creativity

Children are the future and how we support or educate them now will determine how they tackle the issues of the future. This is important more than ever as we are dealing with a pandemic and an unfamiliar future. Many popular educators and research findings suggest that education is killing the natural curiosity and creativity in children.  We are all born with a natural sense of curiosity and imagination but we seem to learn our self out of it or grow up killing that sense of wonder.

Why Creativity?

We as individuals and as a community seems to have forgotten the importance of creativity. Yes, we need to learn to read, write and count but how we craft our life is important as well and is very strongly linked to creative imagination.

Imagination and creative thinking are the source of all innovation and developments that we see today and it is all thanks to certain individuals and groups in the past that stepped out of the box and took risks to imagine and dream bigger and better but the current system of education is killing this very thought process in our children and in adults too.

“If we were to design an education system to kill creativity, we couldn’t design one better than the one we already have.” – Sir Ken Robinson.

The school system

Parents spend a great deal of money and effort to educate their children but the prevailing system does not create well balanced individuals. The majority of school systems today are mechanical or follow a similar system that is rarely conducive for creative thinking. Students themselves have come out and expressed their frustrations at not being able to ask questions, being laughed at and being bullied. Parents and governments over the years are equally guilty of supporting this system of dangerous mechanical growth.

Often times we find an emphasis and importance placed on certain types of intelligence like literacy and numeracy over others. Certain disciplines are deemed more valuable and creative and creativity seem to have suffered. We seemed to have pushed creativity to only few disciplines and overlooked its importance in daily aspects of our lives. As children go though the different stages in schooling there is a push towards higher grades and getting in to a prestigious university followed by prestigious jobs. There is less opportunity for collaborative intelligence sharing or cross discipline interaction. Everyone seems to be pushing for individual success over community and the outcome of such a system is evident today as we battle Covid19. It has opened our eyes as we witness first-hand since learning is online. They don’t seem to enjoy it and when one does not enjoy something you cannot expect a 100% effort.

Why and how

We currently live in a society where failure is grossly looked down on. Children face the brunt of it when it comes to their exams where gaining higher grades seems to be of utmost importance. The classic issue of every individual being tested by the same examination paper is like telling a fish to run and a bird to swim and then grading them based on their performance.

Mistakes are laughed at and children are learning not to experiment or speak out in a classroom. In some institutions you are not allowed even to question the teacher. and this fear of failure and asking the wrong question is forcing creativity out of our children.

Children are taught that following things as they are is good and doing something different is bad. If you answer differently you are laughed at, if you question you are thought of as a trouble maker.

“We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it’s an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.” Sir Ken Robinson.

Everything in schools are now standardized from the outlines of an essay to the way you should color and draw. This fixation on standardization and perfection is killing us slowly. How can you expect children to learn and enjoy the process if they are always told to follow a set of instructions? How can they be creative if they are not allowed to make a mess and even fail a little?




Somewhere along the lines of progress we seem to have lost the meaning of education. True learning and knowledge have been replaced by meaningless paper certificates. The school system has created a structure where perfection and order seem to be the way to go.

Let us take a closer look at how our children are learning and NOW seems to be an excellent time to start. Learning is not about memorizing a set of facts and regurgitating them on paper. Education has to be enjoyable, nurturing creativity and individual abilities and talents. It must support imagination and curiosity to explore.  Education must create a well-rounded person willing to take risks and get their hands dirty while exploring. Life is not a perfectly organized set of incidents, it is a glorious mess that is beautiful.

“Some of the most brilliant, creative people I know did not do well at school. Many of them didn’t really discover what they could do—and who they really were—until they’d left school and recovered from their education.” Sir Ken Robinson.