Hi, I'm Nick. This is my blog. I'm a life-long unschooler living in New York. You can find more about me here.

I help run the Recurse Center (YC'S10).

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Do schools kill creativity?

May 25, 2007

I just watched Sir Ken Robinson's speech from last year's TED conference. It's old, but definitely worth a look if you've got 19 minutes:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY]

First, I think his diagnosis is mostly right on target. Of course, this isn't much of a surprise given that I'm highly skeptical of traditional schooling and subscribe to Howard Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, which Sir Robinson seemed to be advocating. In sound-byte form:

We are educating people out of their creative capacities.

One critique: It may sound pedantic, but I think he really should have said that we are schooling -- rather than educating -- children out of their creative capacities.

Second, his delivery method was fascinating. I can't remember the last time I saw humor blended so thoroughly and effectively into a speech. His talk is at heart an argument -- a somewhat radical one, at that -- against schooling as it is currently practiced. And yet he managed to avoid framing the issue in terms of "us" versus "them," or seriously antagonizing large groups of people. Too often when we feel even slightly attacked, our defense shields go up and we stop listening. By putting everyone at ease through his humor, Sir Robinson doesn't obstruct his message but instead makes it possible for us to actually hear it.

Lastly, I loved this:

If you're not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.

I think I'll re-read that line every day for at least the next month.