Schools stifle creativity

Distinguished Guest Writer

Elliot, a twelve-year old Year 8 pupil, is – according to his proud grandfather, Neville Grayson A.M., a widely respected former primary school principal in Queensland – a deep thinker and wide reader with a real interest in politics. He recently led his school’s year-level debating team in an inter-school debate on ‘Schools Stifle Creativity’. The thoughts of pupils who have to take NAPLAN tests are seldom appreciated by adults and deliberately ignored by ‘plumber’ politicians and fawning testucators. With his special interest in politics, perhaps, one day, we will have a politician who cares for kids and thinks about the effects of schooling on a person’s cognitive development. Best wishes, Elliot, in whatever dream you pursue.

Phil Cullen

 Schools Stifle Creativity


In their early years every child had a plan, a hope, a dream. A dream to be a princess, a knight, an astronaut, a designer, a model or a rock star. The list is endless. However, during a child’s journey through education these childhood plans are moulded, shaped and reformed into occupations that are typical in society such as tradesmen, shop assistants and transport workers. It is clear to me that these changes occur in schooling and that it is schools that kill creativity.

Good evening, ladies and gentleman. Tonight our school debating team will convince you that “Schools Stifle Creativity”. Creativity is defined as “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods and interpretations”. Schools hold back or repress this creativity because they largely teach curriculum and expect children to learn through repetition Teachers teach what has been taught before rather than encourage students to develop new ideas. This is like a sheep in a paddock that follows its leader.

I will be speaking about the effects that the National Curriculum and NAPLAN have on teachers and how it effects a student’s education. Our second speaker will be speaking from an individual point of view.

Now to my first point. The national curriculum is an education guide designed by the government. The curriculum requires schools to teach certain subjects in a small amount of time. To the government. subjects such as English, Maths and Science, are seen as a priority. Certain aspects of these subjects must be covered above all else. If these subjects’ time limit is breached, time must be taken from the more creative subjects. Even in creative subjects at school, students are required to do things that aren’t true to them. Basically, the National Curriculum puts the mind and creativity of a student in a straight jacket.

Now I’d like to speak about the effects of NAPLAN. NAPLAN is the National Program Literacy and Numeracy. This is an acronym dreaded by students all across Australia. For all Year 3,5,7 and 9 students it means black and white studies for the next semester. Prior to the NAPLAN testing, there is no room for the colourful subjects that require imagination such as Arts. Music and Drama and students must be educated within the strict boundaries of the test. Teachers stifle imagination because of government practices such as this. Schools are only provided with resources to teach NAPLAN concentrated practices. So how can teachers teach something that they don’t have opportunities or resources to teach? Schools want to have success in NAPLAN because good NAPLAN results attract parents therefore the school receives more enrolments and basically, more funding. The teachers not only don’t have the capacity to foster imaginative subjects they don’t have the resources either.

As Albert Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand.” The National Curriculum and NAPLAN are systems designed to teach knowledge rather than imagination.

In conclusion, not only do teachers stifle imagination and creativity, they don’t have the time, resources, permission and ability to encourage it. Therefore, schools stifle creativity.


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