Do Schools Kill Creativity – A Response to Ken Robinson

By BRENT SILBY

Robinson argues that schools are primarily concerned with conformity and that this has a negative impact on creativity. He suggests that by grouping students by age, delivering a standard curriculum, and testing them against standardized criteria, schools are essentially diminishing the individuality and creativity of students. In his Do Schools Kill Creativity TED Talk, Robinson states that:

“…all kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.” He goes on to suggest that “creativity is now as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”. (Robinson 2006).

Robinson seems to be implying that schools currently place little value on creativity. He is also creating a distinction between literacy and creativity, suggesting that somehow schools value one but not the other. But literacy and creativity go hand-in-hand. A highly literate person can become hugely creative in the production of written works. It is not the case that schools favor literacy over creativity. Schools encourage both. Furthermore, in other areas of creativity, schools excel. During their life in school, students are exposed to an immense array of creative endeavors from music to visual art; from fiction to game design. It is simply false that schools place little value on creativity. Robinson, himself, is a product of what he might call “traditional schooling”, and he is clearly creative. Arguably the most creative people on the planet are the products of traditional schooling. Given the fact that there is so much creativity in society, it seems to be misleading to make the bold claim that “schools educate the creativity out of kids”. Continue reading

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Language and the GERM

By Richard McCance

Most teachers around the world now are probably well aware of the threats from what Pasi Sahlberg has labeled “the GERM” (Finnish Lessons, 2012). However, while some of these threats are blatantly designed to shock the system and impose a new paradigm onto existing structures, others are more subtle and covert. High stakes accountability measures and the privatisation of public education are two obvious examples of the former. One of the more nuanced and often overlooked threats comes in the form of the language used to redefine or reshape the educational system towards particular goals or outcomes.
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Do We Have a Philosophy of Education?

By Graham Mundy

The intention of this paper is to suggest that New Zealand has no philosophy of education, and that the many problems permeating our education system are a consequence of this. A selection of some of these problems will be outlined, and will be shown to have arisen from a lack of underlying principles which, had they existed, would have provided both epistemological and ethical touchstones, which in turn would have exposed these inadequacies.
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Critical Thinking as a Key Competency in English

By Nathan Woods

This review illustrates a need for research on how teachers in New Zealand have interpreted the Key Competency ‘thinking’ and how they have attempted to embed critical thinking as a Key Competency into English courses. The review is divided into four sections. Section one, What are the Key Competencies, outlines broader issues related to the implementation of a competencies-based curriculum in New Zealand, relating these broader issues specifically to the Key Competency ‘thinking’. Section two, What is Critical Thinking, reviews the literature on critical thinking, paying close attention to how critical thinking has been defined, and how this definition reflects the idea that critical thinking is a competency that draws on skills, dispositions, knowledge, values and attitudes. Section three, What is English, briefly outlines the key features of the English learning area, as stipulated by the New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007). Finally, section four, Critical Thinking in English, provides a brief review of literature showing how critical thinking can be embedded in English courses. Key themes arising from the review are: (1) critical thinking can be expressed differently in different subject domains; (2) subject-specific content knowledge plays a key role in critical thinking; and (3) schools and teachers may overlook the subject-specific nature of critical thinking when they interpret the Key Competencies.

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What Does it Mean to be Well Educated: A brief response to Kohn

By Nathan Woods

In What Does it Mean to Be Well Educated (2003) Alfie Kohn criticized what he called ‘traditional’ education. Here I respond to some of Kohn’s criticisms.

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Higher Order Thinking Skills?

By Nathan Woods

Thinking taxonomies establish a hierarchy of thinking; ‘simple’ or ‘less -sophisticated’ thinking skills, such as describing, noticing, or remembering, are seen as inferior to ‘higher order’ thinking skills like analysis and evaluation. However, these taxonomies over-simplify and misrepresent thinking.

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Education and the Politics of Culture

BY NATHAN WOODS

In 1993 Michael Apple wrote that, “Education is deeply implicated in the politics of culture. The curriculum is never a neutral assemblage of knowledge, somehow appearing in the texts and classrooms of a nation. It is always part of a selective tradition, someone’s selection, some group’s vision of legitimate knowledge. It is produced out of the cultural, political, and economic conflicts, tensions, and compromises that organise and disorganise a people”. In this article I will ‘unpack’ Apple’s quotation, showing that it emphasizes the social, cultural, and political processes that underlie any curriculum. I will discuss the political life of the curriculum in New Zealand, paying attention to historical and contemporary conflicts regarding its purpose, content, and structure.  Finally, I will address criticisms of Apple’s approach to curriculum theory.

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Filed under Criticism of theories, General, History of education