I thought you all would be interested in this February 2006 talk by Ken Robinson about how schools destroy our creativity. As someone who teaches at the university level, and someone who loves the “what if” aspect of science fiction, I think there is a lot to be said about the way we teach our students. The sad truth is that people who study pedagogy know that our public schools are (at least partially) a failure. They’ve been saying it for decades. But the people who run our schools are, more often than not, people who either don’t have degrees or didn’t get them in professions which required them to learn how to teach.
That’s not the case with myself. Part of my educational requirements here at the University of Florida is to teach undergraduate composition and (now) literature courses. We’re still teaching formulaic writing at the university level, something which I’ve tried to go against in my courses. The result of working in opposition to formula has been eye-opening. Many students simply don’t know how to be creative. Some of those students, when challenged to think for themselves and to use their critical thinking skills (what little they have) to move beyond the “right way of thinking and writing” often get flustered, because they haven’t a clue what to do, how to do it, and so on.
We’re not teaching our young people how to be the builders of tomorrow. We’re teaching them how to fit into a society which works like a repetitive machine. And as we’ve seen in the last few years, that machine is running out of oil. It’s breaking down.