Monday, January 24, 2011

Tech Task #3

Today's tech task will be on Ken Robinson's "School Kills Creativity", which I had watched briefly in my Education Core Studies 100 class last semester. Today I watched the whole video and it was even more amazing. This video is about how school sucks the creativity out of children. Children are born artists. We don't grow into creativity. We grow out of it. As an Arts Education student, I can relate to this speech very well.

Ken Robinson tells of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six years old. This little girl hardly paid attention in class but in the drawing lesson she did. The teacher was fascinated and asked the girl, “what are you drawing?” and the girl responded: “God.” And the teacher said, “no one knows what God looks like.” And the girl replied, “they will in a minute". Children are not frightened of being wrong. If you are not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.By the time they become adults, most kids lose that capacity. Society stigmatizes mistakes. We are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make.

I agree with this wholeheartedly. As a little girl, I loved to draw. I'd draw on the walls, I'd colour the table, I'd draw absolutely everything. Eventually I learned how to use paper. However, in school, I was criticized for what I drew. "That doesn't look like a horse", people would say. It wasn't supposed to be an average-looking horse. It was a magical horse. As I grew older and began drawing more realistically, my art work would be submitted into contests, where they were criticized even more. I stopped drawing by the time I was 10. I never took it up again.

Another story Robinson brings up is the one about Gillian Lynn. She is now a world-renowned choreographer, but as a child, she was deemed as having a disorder. At school, she was completely hopeless. The school in the 1930s wrote to her parents, saying she had a learning disorder. She kept fidgeting and couldn’t sit still. Today, doctors call this ADHD. She was sent to a specialist. Her mother told the doctor of all the problems Gillian was having. The doctor took her mother and left Gillian alone in the room, with the radio on. The doctor told her mother to stand and watch her. Gillian was on her feet, moving to the music. The doctor turned to Mrs. Lynn and said, “Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer.” That’s when she began dance lessons.

In elementary, I was a good student. I tried my best to pay attention to everything my teacher said and was a perfectionist. I no longer wanted to be an artist. I wanted to be a doctor. This continued throughout my middle years until I hit high school. Suddenly, numbers and science meant nothing to me. I couldn't understand, thus I couldn't pay attention. I was extremely fidgety and got in trouble a lot during class. Teachers who had me before understood the way I was and accepted it. My math teacher, Mr. Miller, was extremely accepting of it. He knew math wasn't for me, but helped me if I asked. New teachers punished me, and so I came to hate them. I was still very good in school. My marks were fairly high and I handed everything in on time, but my focus was not academic. My creative writing teacher advised me to audition for the spring musical. I'd never been in a musical before but I went for the audition anyway. I made it and loved it. That's when I discovered dance. In school, I couldn't memorize ANYTHING even if my life depended on it and it took me longer than other students to learn a topic I was not interested in (which was a lot), but in dance, I learned and memorized things it took other dancers years to understand. My mind and body linked in ways others just couldn't. In two years, I was able to catch up to people my age who had been dancing since they were three.

My point is, and also Robinson's point, is that intelligence is distinct. Not everyone is smart academically. All children have talents and we squander them. Creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status. The main goal of educational institutions around the world is to produce university professors. They are the people who come out on top. Everyone else, artists especially, are stupid. Uneducated. Which is wrong. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance to children on a day-to-day basis, like we do for mathematics. This is unacceptable. Dance, which incorporates the entire body and mind, is as important as mathematics, which only requires the power of the mind. What happens to the children who are better at expressing themselves through dance than math? We forget about them.

My goal in life is to change this. I wasn't able to find my calling until later in life due to schools enforcing the idea that artists are uneducated and won't succeed in society. I am majoring in dance, and I am hoping to teach dance on a day-to-day basis in schools in Saskatchewan. For free. (For the children that is, I still have to make a living and am hoping to be paid as much as the average school teacher! Dance classes usually cost around $50 a month for a weekly 45 minute class.) I will not let children who thrive in the arts be forgotten. They are just as intelligent as children who excel in math. This was my main argument when I was applying for scholarships. You see, university scholarships look for people who are either big business people or engineers. "Smart" people, as today's society calls them. To me, that is wrong. And so, I fought for my right as an artist to be paid through university just as a medical doctor or scientist could. The result? I had received Saskatchewan's most generous scholarship from SaskTel, which was originally for business majors, and I am currently being paid through four full years of university.

I think Ken Robinson and I would be good friends if we knew eachother in real life. This video is very educational and has several good points on how schools need to incorporate the arts more than they already do. And by arts, I mean ALL five arts areas: dance, drama, visual arts, literature, and music. Today's schools only teach music, visual arts, and literature. Drama and dance are often forgotten. Every disciplinary should be treated with the same status if children are going to be able to thrive both academically and creatively.

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