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How Education in India is Killing Students’ Creativity

Part 1: Is Your School Killing Your Creativity?

The most watched TED talk on YouTube is Sir Ken Robinson’s ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ at over 8 million views! In it, he mentions a widely accepted truth: exams (standardized tests) do not measure creativity. Creativity is seen when you create something. In our education system, and many others throughout the world, we only vomit the words of the textbook we mugged up the previous night. And those with exceptional cramming skills are called rattu totas. Par unki galti nahi hai!


Sherlock’s Mom: “Music class kyun jaana hai? Musician banna hai kya?”

Here’s an idea: The school system is specifically designed to kill creativity.
Don’t think that’s true? Answer the questions below:

The Creativity Killing Checklist

– Are math and science considered MORE important than art, music, dance and theater?

– Do you teachers say, “School toh padhne aate hai, yeh dance vagera toh ghar par bhi kar sakte hai“?

– Do you have to choose one out of all these activities while you don’t get to choose between math, science and social science?

– Does your school say NO to you participating in extracurricular competitions “kyunki beta exams hai agle mahine“?

– Does your school only push “talented” students in these activities while neglecting others who wish to learn?

If the answer to at least 4/5 questions is yes, your school is most certainly killing your creativity. Still unsure? Try this: Hand small kids a sheet of paper each and some crayons and ask them to draw whatever they like. You’ll notice that all of their drawings will be different. Now, ask teenagers to draw something. Most of them will draw: a house, a mountain range, the sun rising and a river. Because this is what they were taught in art class in school!

Part 2: Why Creativity is Important:

John Holt, an education philosopher, believed that school “damages children and ruthlessly suppresses their creative urges and individual identities.”

It is an old truth that we learn by doing things. We learn when we create.

In art, we are exploring new forms of expressing our thoughts, emotions and the world around us.
In craft, we’re finding new ways of looking at everyday items.
In music, we are learning to communicate without words.
In dance, we are moving our bodies to tell stories.
In theatre, we are using our voice and imagination to touch people’s heart.
In creative writing, we are expressing our heart’s true desires and sometimes reflecting our society’s problems.

In all these activities, we create.


Creative tasks can be a refreshing change from the school’s unsaid motto of “COMPETITION! COMPETITION! COMPETITION!”

Now, why is creating and getting better at the act of creation so important?
– Because jobs in the adult sphere is all about solving problems. Most of these problems do NOT have ONLY one solution. Most problems are complex require creative solutions.

It takes a lot of trial and error. As you’ll probably notice, chote bachho ko kuch naya karne se darr nahi lagta. Hand them a ton of materials and they’ll keep combining different objects to see what works. If it doesn’t work out, they’ll try again. Par bade bachhe bahut jaldi give up kar dege, in the same situation. They’ll call their teacher and ask for her help.

Older kids are unwilling to “explore”. This is evidence of low creative capacity in older kids who have grown up in an environment that stigmatizes mistakes- where mistakes mean red marks in an exam paper, a slap at home, and everyone naming you duffer.

Most teachers and parents agree that by going to school, we’re getting prepared for jobs we shall take up in the future. But how can we be fully prepared if we cannot think creativity and hence are unable to solve problems, a majority of which require creative solutions?

Another way schools kill creativity is by only pushing those who display exceptional skill in the activity at first. From Class 1st to 12th, the same kid will be sent for competitions EACH TIME. A lot of adults believe that skills are something we are born with. Sharma ji ka ladka toh paida hi genius hua tha!

This is not true. Skills, especially creative skills, are not innate. The more we perform them, the better we get. That is why singers do riyaaz  each morning, or athletes practice every day. You may suck at painting right now, but if you do it everyday, slowly you’ll be much better than you previously were. It won’t happen in a day, or a week, but you’ll start seeing the change in a month. Perhaps in an year, people will even say that you paint better than the most artistic girl in your class.

Parents and teachers believe that an intelligent child is only one who scores 99% in exams. Scientifically, this is also NOT TRUE.
One thing we know about intelligence is that “it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinetically. We think in abstract. And we think in movement” (Sir Ken Robinson)


Being able to logically solve math problems is JUST ONE type of intelligence!

By not investing in our creative minds, schools are restricting our “professional development” by not taking away all the opportunities for us to think in all these above-mentioned wonderful ways. Some of my friends used to say, “School ko toh bas paiso se matlab hai“. There is great economic value in encouraging creativity in students! It fosters holistic growth and results in creative individuals capable of solving the world’s greatest problems. Now if that isn’t worth investing in the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, what is?

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