By Kayelin Tiggs
There is a saying that goes, “What if the cure to cancer is trapped inside the mind of someone who cannot afford an education?”
Well, what if the cure to cancer is trapped inside the mind of a child whose capacity to think creatively has been wiped out by their education system?
America claims to be the “land of the free” but this country’s school curriculums have a desperate lack of individuality. I have been working with children of all ages and from different backgrounds for over 4 years, which is admittedly not very long, but I have been very observant. I have an interest in education, but I find there to be many people whose interests lie in education, and everyone has different opinions about the way education should be manifested. Yet the American education system is one of the most uniform and inflexible in the world. In providing education to kids in attempt to prepare them for a unknown future–despite all of the expertise and predictive statistical data–our education practices remain unchanging. It seems as if the only thing we are practicing is insanity.
I believe all kids have talent and the capacity to learn, but the way we teach consistently squanders those talents and abilities, and in turn, diminish the possibility of reaching their full potential. I sometimes sit in a class room full of disengaged pupils or see students who never challenge the curriculum because they take the information as absolute, or don’t know that they should have a say in what and how they’re learning. Creativity in education is just as important as science and math, even literacy. Most young people are unafraid of failure, but as they travel through an educational system that does not cater to the multiple types of intelligence, they lose the confidence to take chances.
When we neglect creativity, we are only cultivating a portion of their brain and end up ignoring their creative capacities. This becomes an implicit hint that their individuality has no value, because this is what we believe they should be learning for the benefit of capitalism, or the continued monetary functioning of this nation. We lie and tell students that demonstrating strong academic ability guarantees success in life. We stigmatize differences and put labels on unconventional characteristics, which drive kids to conformity. Therefore, highly talented, creative people sometimes internalize these beliefs and feel as though they are inadequate because their non-academic talents are worthless simply because they are not seen as beneficial to American capitalism.
As society searches for answers to generational poverty, rising suicide statistics, divorce, addiction etc., no one seems to have an answer. Maybe it is partly because education does not teach us to approach problems creatively. Imagine what the world would be like if our education system taught us how to heal from the psychological, spiritual and emotional injuries we sustain regularly. We have lost the creative, meaningful aspects of what makes life so dynamic and this processed, cookie-cutter way of thinking has imprisoned us.
Education has the capacity to save lives. Academic inflation and the increasing number of college graduates will exacerbate this problem, because there will eventually be a need for a new way to measure qualifications for jobs. This will be difficult if there is no way to distinguish one person from the next because everyone has adapted to a conditioned way of thinking and problem-solving. People experience the world in a myriad of ways; visually, kinetically, abstractly, through sound and movement and it is important to find a way for students to express how they interact in all these ways. We have heard much banter about free college, but children must make it there first. I pray we begin to consider what a versatile, adaptive education system can offer us in the future.