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As a child who is completing their last year in middle school, I have a rather unique inquisitiveness concerning education and I think we all do but hesitate to express ourselves. The globe has a a rather endowed interest in it, mainly as it’s education that’s meant to take us captive into this future that we can’t grasp. If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2075. Nobody has an intimation, despite all the prowess that’s been on display for the past few decades, what the globe will look like in five years’ time. Yet we’re meant to be educating children for it. So the unpredictability, is extraordinary. We’ve all agreed, nonetheless, on the really stupendous capacities that children have, their capacities for innovation.
My contention is, all kids have tremendous talents and all we do is dissipate them, pretty remorselessly. My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status. Kids will take a chance and if they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, what we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never think of anything original and by the time they get to be adults, most kids have let their knack wander away. They have become frightened of being wrong, and we run our companies like this by Condemning mistakes. We’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.
The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. I believe this that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Rather, we get educated out if it. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to, we all do. Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up, we start to educate them progressively from the waist up and then we focus on their heads., that too, slightly to one side.
If you were to visit education, as an alien, and say “What’s it for, public education?” I think you’d have to conclude, if you look at it, who really succeeds by this, who does everything that they should, who gets all the pearl and brownie points and who are the winners. I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors, accountants and of course, doctors and engineers. Here in India for the majority of backward thinking parents, if you haven’t pursued a B.Tech, MBBS or MBA course, you have failed both your family and life. I am fortunate enough to be a progeny of the minority of parents, the one with open minds who let their own children pave their path. Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability and there’s a reason they say. Initially, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century, which too came into being to meet the needs of industrialism.
The hierarchy is rooted on two ideas, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top and you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist .
The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. The second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance and the consequence is that many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatised. I think we can’t afford to go on that way and our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth, for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children.
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