Wednesday, 17 February 2016

For creativity over conformity in classrooms

Flexibility, adaptation, new thinking and innovation are 21st century skills

Do schools kill creativity, asks Ken Robinson in the much-watched TED talk. I am inclined to say, they do. Of course, educational systems do notwork in a vacuum, but are a reflection of the society they function in.

India’s educational system is modelled on the mass education system that developed in the 19th century in Europe and later spread around the world. Tracing the roots of the movement, the goal is clear — to condition children as “good” citizens and productive workers. This suited the industrial age that needed the constant supply of a compliant workforce with a narrow set of capabilities. The educational environment even today resembles factories with bells, uniforms and batch-processing of learners. They are designed to get learners to conform.

From an economic standpoint, the environment today is very different. In a complex, volatile and globally interconnected world, new-age skill-sets are essential. Wired magazine estimated that 70 per cent of today’s occupations would become automated by the end of this century. What will be the role of humans in this new economy? Linear, routine thinking will have no advantage. It calls for flexibility, adaptation, new thinking, paradigm shifts, and innovation — and that is the language of creativity. Creativity is an essential 21st century skill.

So, how would an educational system built around creativity look like? I use the word creativity here in its broadest sense — the nurturing and igniting of a human being’s latent talent and abilities to the fullest potential. From a scientific perspective, creativity is an aptitude for new, original and imaginative thinking. Let us consider some key aspects of an educational system with creativity at its core.

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