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Creativity or Compliance - What should Education value?

"The culture of school is radically at odds with the culture of learning necessary for innovation."

— Tony Wagner, Harvard Professor



When Aadya was young she used to love breaking anything she found and re-making it. She was curious and wanted to know why a particular thing like TV remote, torch, etc worked in a certain way. She saw videos online and came up with different things to make everyday. Her parents admired her curiosity and interest in science. When they received her mark sheet from school, they saw that their daughter had scored average in science. They were surprised as they believed that their daughter loved science and understood the concepts as they had seen the practical outcome of her understanding. On asking the teacher, they were told that she was not doing well in class and would never finish her homework or class work. Her parents realized that their daughter's passion was evident when it came to creativity but there was a major lack in her love for science when it came to compliance.


India's educational system is majorly based on the mass education system that originated in Europe in the 19th century and extended around the world. Education in the twentieth century emphasized obedience and uniformity over originality. Unfortunately, most kids are still taught a uniform curriculum through rote learning and standardized assessment, at a one-size-fits-all pace, as they have been in the past. Too many kids are disinterested and unmotivated to study which causes a lack in their learning. They start questioning why they should go to school when they can learn the same thing by watching a youtube video or reading a book.


According to several studies, traditional schooling approaches stifle children's natural creativity and curiosity. Teachers are under a lot of pressure to cover, assess, and demonstrate standards-based achievement. In this system, a report card grade can take precedence over a child's actual learning. As the greater educational system is designed for this, many children learn how to pay more attention to grades. Even though the odds are stacked against them, there are numerous high school dropouts who have been successful like: Richard Branson, Joe Lewis, Artha Franklin, Nicole Kidman and David Karp. They all found a job and are worth millions today with only their passion to guide them.


New-age skill sets are critical in a complicated, volatile, and globally networked environment. Creativity is a necessary skill in the twenty-first century. Flexibility, adaptation, fresh thinking, paradigm changes, and innovation are all required in the modern educational system, and this is the language of creativity. A new generation of innovators are required and we cannot just let children rote learn anymore.


If we go back and notice carefully, we will realize that most life-changing ideas and success stories have started in someone’s garage or basement. If we want children to prosper and improve the world, we have to allow them to follow their internal paths of interest. Giving students the skills they need to succeed in this new environment, as well as helping them gain the confidence to use those skills, is at the heart of a 21st-century education. In this education system classrooms become playgrounds for exploration, inquiry and reflection.


We must model and promote this form of learning if we truly value the generation of new ideas. The transformation from compliance to creativity will take a long time. We will have to change the assignment structure, the classroom environment, the curriculum and the teaching style to promote and practice creativity. This takes time.


Till we reach the point where the education system has changed to include creativity as an outcome, there are organizations and companies like Tinkerama which have recognized this need, and are acting on it. Their programs are designed to nurture creativity through exploratory hands-on learning. Through these organizations, a child can experience a creative study environment while also being in a traditional school.


Written By Nandini Jalan


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