I’m taking a class called the Psychology of Creativity. I’ve only had four or five classes, so I don’t know how interesting the class will turn out to be. So far, it’s been okay. We’re learning more about the influence of the majority and conformity than creativity, but it’s been engaging.
Before going to recitation last week, we were supposed to read two articles on how the majority affected the minority — part of the reading cited the Asch study. I found the reading to be really interesting; why do people in the minority allow the majority to have so much influence on them? In the Asch studies, did the people who conformed to the confederates just not have any confidence? I was excited for recitation; I wanted to discuss these, and other, questions in more depth.
At least that’s what I thought we would do in recitation.
But we didn’t do that. Instead of analyzing and discussing the reading, we got into groups to present sections of the reading. The instructions were to assume the rest of the class was high schoolers and your group was the experts, now create a presentation on ____ aspect of the reading.
I couldn’t believe it. In a class called Psychology of Creativity, we were doing the exact opposite of creativity; we were presenting facts that everyone already knew.
And this is the problem with the current state of education. The focus is on knowing facts instead of creative thinking. Why is always secondary to when and what. Even in college, when critical thinking skills are supposed to be learned and utilized, it’s just not happening.
This phenomenon isn’t just starting in college, it starts as early as elementary school and manifests itself through high school and even into adult life. We’re taught through school that just knowing information is great. The more you know, the “smarter” you are. This is why shows like Jeopardy! are so popular; the current paradigm is one that favors knowing over thinking.
And being “smart” is good, we need smart people. But we also need creative people. We need people that can advance society. We need people to bring us (and the whole world) out of our economic slump. Knowing facts can’t do that. We need thinkers. We need the education paradigm to shift to a model that encourages and rewards creativity over knowledge.
When math class isn’t just memorizing formulas; it’s problem solving, creative thinking, understanding concepts. When english class isn’t a spelling test; it’s creating sentences, creating ideas, creating a work of art. When philosophy class isn’t reciting the theories of famous philosophers; it’s creating your own theories, analyzing their theories to create your own. When school isn’t just knowing; it’s creating, it’s thinking, it’s engaging. When this happens, schooling will finally be what it should be; a playground for learning, a playground for self-improvement.