This past spring I took a class at Utah Valley University on the Philosophy of Education and was able to read a lot on the theories of education and educational theory. Having my own educational experience and raising four children I have conjured up several opinions, but seeing a variety of theories on the matter has helped me to formulate some really strong ideas. Over my next series of posts I want to divulge several of these ideas that I have considered and pondered over. There is always room for improvement in our scholastic endeavors, whether it is our own pursuits, those for our children or society as a whole.
The modern scholastic curriculum is set up in such a way to discourage individual creativity. Creativity is paramount to individual progress. Naturally, when someone pursues a creative interest they are going to experience a variety of failures along the way. Major successes have all come through periodic failures. When we punish students for failing we destroy their creativity, freedom, desire for exploration, and ability to do things differently. They are then encouraged and trained, to jump through the procedural hoops by doing whatever is required to get a passing grade and thus experience the greatest failure of not seeing the success of doing something profoundly different. Schools should allow and encourage failure to breed bigger thinking and greater advancement.
We praise the “great minds” of the past because of the way they have formulated ideas and created wonderful things, however, we keep our children from doing the very things that curated these minds. As a society, we would look unfavorably upon someone that takes extended periods of time to sit next to a fire and meditate on life, existence, and the future, but this is exactly where the Meditations of the renowned René Descartes comes from. We feel that our young people are not profound enough for advanced literature in elementary and even middle school years, yet we praise the great minds of Einstein, Lincoln, Jefferson, and others who were reading deep intellectual works in their pre-teenage years. How many are discouraged from studying literature, philosophy, fine arts, or music in college? These degrees are seen as pathways to a meager living. In her 2008 Harvard Commencement Address J. K. Rowling shares her story of shying away from her parents desire to pursue “a vocational degree; [she] wanted to study English Literature.” (Rowling) Why is it easy for us to praise great minds, great authors, great artists, great musicians, but disallow our youth to do the very things that would allow them to step outside of the status quo and do something marvelous?
What is it that we are doing throughout our schools and society that takes humans from believing that they are creative while children, but no longer holding to that belief when they are grown? What is to be done to resolve this? We have a duty to help the next generation to utilize their creativity and be free and comfortable with taking risks and experiencing failure.
See the next post…
Rowling, J.K. The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination Harvard University Commencement Address. Copyright June 2008, Harvard University, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2008/06/text-of-j-k-rowling-speech/