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Is the education system biased against creativity?

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Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:07 pm

I recently started reading a blog on psychic ability. While most of the blog posts pertain to matters psychic or spiritual, there was one post that focused more on what the author perceived to be a bias against 'right-brained' learning and creativity in the education system. I'm interested in others' thoughts on this, so I'm posting it here for others to see.

http://weilerpsiblog.wordpress.com/2012 ... -thinkers/

What do people think? Does he have a point? (It should be noted that the author lives in America and so the education system that he is talking about is the USA's.) But it got me thinking about my own education in the UK. I thought that we had adequate opportunities to express ourselves creatively and pursue creative subjects at school - but is there a bias towards more linear, logical education that sidelines creativity a bit? Could schools do more to encourage creativity? Do they not pay as much attention as they could to right-brained learning and creative tendencies?

Thoughts?
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Dorset Girl » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:14 pm

I agree that the school system, and Academia in general, is more geared towards left-brained people, but I think this is changing, with the re-introduction of more vocational subjects. I work for two traditional universities, who have a history of bias towards the traditional core subject - e.g. Maths, English, Science, Geography, History... but over the past ten years, both have introduced a whole range of new, more vocational degree subjects. So I think it's changing. :)
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Moon-Crane » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:36 pm

I don't remember schools and colleges being particularly biased when i went though the system. Couldn't tell you what it's like now.

Even though i went down the path of a 'creative arts' degree, i don't think it is - nor should be - necessary to get a degree in creative subjects. I do think you need to have degree and above level qualifications in science, medicine and engineering, so i prefer to see them take precedence in higher education. I'd still give more incentives to people to get into those disciplines, along with mathematics - whether that's government help towards university tuition fees, or other financial breaks. Everything else from english, history, geography, business to language and arts courses - even law - don't really need any incentives to sign people up.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby barnaclelapse » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:30 am

My Canadian elementary school wasn't, but my Virginia high school sure as hell didn't give a shit about creative things.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:50 am

Moon-Crane wrote:Even though i went down the path of a 'creative arts' degree, i don't think it is - nor should be - necessary to get a degree in creative subjects.


Why is that? Do you think creative subjects are less important than mathematics and scientific subjects?

Moon-Crane wrote:I do think you need to have degree and above level qualifications in science, medicine and engineering, so i prefer to see them take precedence in higher education.


I don't think I agree with that. I recognise the importance of those subjects, but I don't see them as having greater inherent value than creative subjects. I think creative subjects are equally important. I think they should be given equal precedent.

When you say that people need a degree in those subjects, are you talking about everyone? Including people who have little or no talent for the subjects and are highly talented at the creative arts? Do you think they should be encouraged to take a degree in a subject they will likely crash and burn in? I know I would have had a horrible time if I'd had to do a degree in science, medicine or engineering. I have no aptitude for those subjects and have little or no interest in them.

It also depends on what a person wants as their career - if someone wants to be a secondary school English teacher, or secondary school Art or Drama teachers, then they do need a degree in those subjects. What an individual needs in these cases is mostly subjective.

Moon-Crane wrote:Everything else from english, history, geography, business to language and arts courses - even law - don't really need any incentives to sign people up.


But in a sense, wouldn't that be giving special and superior treatment to people who study mathematics/sciences, etc? It's almost like saying to the students who take creative/artistic/humanities degrees that they are studying inferior subjects and thus deserve inferior treatment to the other students. I don't think students should be treated any differently because of the subjects they choose to study.

Why do you think those subjects don't need incentives to sign people up?

I think the bottom line for me is, I see all subjects as having equal value and I think students should get equal treatment regardless of what subject they study. I also don't think that students should be encouraged to study subjects that they have no aptitude for or no interest in. For instance, a student who gets straight As in science but Ds in English should not be encouraged to study English, whereas a student who gets As in English but Ds in science should not be encouraged to study science. I think they should be encouraged to follow their strengths.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby barnaclelapse » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:13 am

You should definitely foster in children a strong understanding and comprehension of as broad a range of subjects as possible, but in a perfect world, I guess I'd also like to see something that lets a child find and be strongly encouraged in their passions. In that regard, I'd love to see everything get a fair shake. But I realize such a thing is pretty damn close to impossible.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:36 am

barnaclelapse wrote:You should definitely foster in children a strong understanding and comprehension of as broad a range of subjects as possible, but in a perfect world, I guess I'd also like to see something that lets a child find and be strongly encouraged in their passions.


I agree and I think that both can be done. I think that primary and secondary school children should be educated about a broad range of subjects - and they usually are - but at the same time, if they have special talents or interests, they should be encouraged to follow them.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Moon-Crane » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:17 pm

Bee Gees Fan wrote:
Moon-Crane wrote:Even though i went down the path of a 'creative arts' degree, i don't think it is - nor should be - necessary to get a degree in creative subjects.


Why is that? Do you think creative subjects are less important than mathematics and scientific subjects?

Yes, they are less important in terms of people surviving on Earth. You don't need to study to be creative. You do need to study to know how to safely remove the appendix from an ill person.

Moon-Crane wrote:I do think you need to have degree and above level qualifications in science, medicine and engineering, so i prefer to see them take precedence in higher education.

I don't think I agree with that. I recognise the importance of those subjects, but I don't see them as having greater inherent value than creative subjects. I think creative subjects are equally important. I think they should be given equal precedent.

When you're dealing with climate change, super viruses, global travel solutions, you need as many people as possible able to understand the subject at hand. The world is a worse place with fewer people working on solutions to those problems. If there happened to be fewer television series written to fill the thousands of tv channels, or fewer Harry Potter rip-off books, the world isn't going to be particularly worse off - and yet i reiterate that without 'qualified' creators it doesn't prevent those shows or books being produced. Without 'qualified' scientists, doctors and engineers, in my eyes you make life more difficult to progress.

When you say that people need a degree in those subjects, are you talking about everyone? Including people who have little or no talent for the subjects and are highly talented at the creative arts? Do you think they should be encouraged to take a degree in a subject they will likely crash and burn in? I know I would have had a horrible time if I'd had to do a degree in science, medicine or engineering. I have no aptitude for those subjects and have little or no interest in them.

It also depends on what a person wants as their career - if someone wants to be a secondary school English teacher, or secondary school Art or Drama teachers, then they do need a degree in those subjects. What an individual needs in these cases is mostly subjective.

Of course it's not about forcing everybody to do those subjects - that would be a pointless excercise. Maybe i didn't make this clear, but i thought it was pretty obvious i was talking about encouraging, nurturing and incentivising anybody showing any aptitude in those disciplines so that they aren't lost down another path.

It clearly does depend on what the person wants to do. What people want to do, and what the country/world might need aren't necessarily the same thing - hence you give incentives to study the disciplines we're short in, and don't for things in which we're nicely subscribed.

Moon-Crane wrote:Everything else from english, history, geography, business to language and arts courses - even law - don't really need any incentives to sign people up.

But in a sense, wouldn't that be giving special and superior treatment to people who study mathematics/sciences, etc? It's almost like saying to the students who take creative/artistic/humanities degrees that they are studying inferior subjects and thus deserve inferior treatment to the other students. I don't think students should be treated any differently because of the subjects they choose to study.

No it isn't. It's saying we need more scientists, engineers and doctors, so we want to give people a further incentive to choose that path if there are other options open.

Why do you think those subjects don't need incentives to sign people up?

Because they don't. It's a fact. The stats show we're short of the numbers needed in the 'difficult' subjects, hence you give incentives to take up those courses. We have many, many, many people taking business study courses, history, design courses, etc. We don't need to give an incentive to sign up to those ones.

I think the bottom line for me is, I see all subjects as having equal value and I think students should get equal treatment regardless of what subject they study. I also don't think that students should be encouraged to study subjects that they have no aptitude for or no interest in. For instance, a student who gets straight As in science but Ds in English should not be encouraged to study English, whereas a student who gets As in English but Ds in science should not be encouraged to study science. I think they should be encouraged to follow their strengths.

Nobody is saying otherwise. Who's saying not to treat people equally? However, it's a sensible idea to try and get people into areas where the country lacks expertise. You can't keep relying on stealing people from anywhere overseas that either the wages or lower or infrastructure to utilise their skills is less.

Personally, it comes down to preferring my doctors, surgeons, aircraft designers and bridge builders to be fully qualified in the necessary knowledge of their fields. I'm less bothered if my favourite author has a degree in English or if the branding team at Saatchi & Saatchi have art and design degrees.

Let me be clear, though. I'm not saying other subjects have no value. That's just ridiculous. Any field needs a certain level of education to understand it. And all higher education doens't have to lead to a specific type of career. I'm purely looking at where we're proven to be short of skills and so need more qualified people with those skillsets.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Dorset Girl » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:47 pm

Moon-Crane wrote:
Bee Gees Fan wrote:
Moon-Crane wrote:Even though i went down the path of a 'creative arts' degree, i don't think it is - nor should be - necessary to get a degree in creative subjects.


Why is that? Do you think creative subjects are less important than mathematics and scientific subjects?

Yes, they are less important in terms of people surviving on Earth. You don't need to study to be creative. You do need to study to know how to safely remove the appendix from an ill person.


Even though I'm an 'Arty' person, rather than 'Sciencey' (words I just made up), I have to agree with MC here. The Creative Arts are important for our culture and enrich our lives, but subjects such as Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and especially Medicine make our lives possible in a practical sense.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Bee Gees Fan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:15 pm

Moon-Crane wrote:Yes, they are less important in terms of people surviving on Earth.


Well, I would agree there. I would say that science keeps people alive and the arts give us a reason to stay alive.

Okay, that's a generalisation and it doesn't apply to everyone, but hopefully you see what I mean. Science is what keeps us alive in the terms of medicine and technology but I think the majority of people need the arts - literature, music, film, TV, painting, poetry, etc - to have a good quality of life. Without any arts or entertainment, I think a lot of people would be significantly unhappier. Of course, science and technology give us a good quality of life too - and I love technology when it's used to enhance entertainment! Thanks to technology we films!

Okay, I think I understand you a little better now. You're saying that in order to be successful in the arts or in order to be successfully creative, a degree is not essential. People can excel creatively without degrees. But in order to excel in maths/science, a degree usually is essential.

I would probably agree with that, although I don't think it applies to every case. There are cases where a degree in the arts *will* be essential to someone's career choice. Maybe not as much as in science or engineering but sometimes it will be necessary.

Moon-Crane wrote:Of course it's not about forcing everybody to do those subjects - that would be a pointless excercise. Maybe i didn't make this clear, but i thought it was pretty obvious i was talking about encouraging, nurturing and incentivising anybody showing any aptitude in those disciplines so that they aren't lost down another path.


Oh, I see - you meant for people showing a skill in the subjects. I thought you meant everyone in general, including people with high creative and artistic tendencies but with no skill for those disciplines.

Still, I think ultimately it should be (and is) the choice of the individual. I think people should be encouraged to pursue their interests in higher education, whatever the subject is. I think when people are allowed to pursue their interests, they are happier people and are more likely to be successful in their studying if it's something they're interested in.

A friend from the creative writing side of the degree originally went to study economics (or something like that) in London because his parents wanted him to. He hated it and also became ill, I believe. So in the end, he dropped out and signed up for English and Creative Writing at my university. Following his passion (and the subject that he was actually better at) and, in a romantic sense, his heart.

Moon-Crane wrote:Because they don't. It's a fact. The stats show we're short of the numbers needed in the 'difficult' subjects, hence you give incentives to take up those courses. We have many, many, many people taking business study courses, history, design courses, etc. We don't need to give an incentive to sign up to those ones.


I haven't looked at the statistics myself, but I'll take your word for it. :)

Would you say that maths, science and engineering are more 'difficult' than the other subjects, though? I'm not sure I would say that. How difficult a subject is depends on what the individual's skills and aptitudes are for. For an artistically or creatively inclined individual, maths and science will be more difficult, but for for someone who is very talented at maths and science, it will be the creative arts that are more difficult. I remember quite a few students at secondary school who did great in Maths and Science but got D grades in English, for example. Some of them really struggled with it. They were bright kids, they just found English (particularly the more creative side, I suspect) very difficult. And their spelling wasn't always the best, I suspect because they didn't usually enjoy reading recreationally.

So I don't think science and maths are more inherently difficult than other subjects, I think a subject's difficult is subjective. It depends on what the individual is good at.

I think with some people in academia, though, that there is a kind of intellectual snobbery towards creative subjects like the arts. And that's something I dislike. I think every subject is 'valid' whether it be a science degree, music degree, or a sports degree. I remember when I was doing A-Level Drama, one of my fellow Drama classmates was told that she by studying Drama, she wasn't studying a 'real' subject. What rubbish! We did a lot of theoretical and written work in Drama, it certainly wasn't all fun and games. We learned a lot about certain acting and theatre styles. I don't think people should be made to feel less intellectual or less academic because they are studying certain subjects. I think they all have academic value.
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Re: Is the education system biased against creativity?

Postby Moon-Crane » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:25 am

Bee Gees Fan wrote:Well, I would agree there. I would say that science keeps people alive and the arts give us a reason to stay alive.

Okay, that's a generalisation and it doesn't apply to everyone, but hopefully you see what I mean. Science is what keeps us alive in the terms of medicine and technology but I think the majority of people need the arts - literature, music, film, TV, painting, poetry, etc - to have a good quality of life. Without any arts or entertainment, I think a lot of people would be significantly unhappier. Of course, science and technology give us a good quality of life too - and I love technology when it's used to enhance entertainment! Thanks to technology we films!

Yep, wouldn't disagree at all. i come from an artsy background, and i do everything with some form of sound and vision playing constantly in the background. I'd hate to live in a world devoid of creativity. Thankfully you don't really need educational institutions to teach/nurture creativity (that's different to thinking they're unnecessary within education - schools should continue to encourage it).

Okay, I think I understand you a little better now. You're saying that in order to be successful in the arts or in order to be successfully creative, a degree is not essential. People can excel creatively without degrees. But in order to excel in maths/science, a degree usually is essential.

Yes, that's pretty much the gist :)

I would probably agree with that, although I don't think it applies to every case. There are cases where a degree in the arts *will* be essential to someone's career choice. Maybe not as much as in science or engineering but sometimes it will be necessary.

Oh i agree that we've created a society where a degree in a subject is perceived as necessary by many employers in any field, but in reality I can't think of one place where an arts degree should be essential. There were always other qualifications that could be earned - including technical ones you could acquire while working in various industries. Eg, if you want to be a technical person like a cameraman, lighting director, animator, etc, i don't see the need for an art degree to get into that. It's the sort of thing you tend to do best by being taught on the job and learning from experienced people in the discipline. I don't see the benefit of doing a degree in lighting direction.

There is more to studying a degree than to learn the skills for a specific job, though. A general art degree is maybe a good background for artistic things, history can be good for learning to research, critivcally evaluate and contextualise information, etc. English is obviously useful for a multitude of reasons. I'm not sure they're essential, in the same way math and science are, but certainly useful.

Still, I think ultimately it should be (and is) the choice of the individual. I think people should be encouraged to pursue their interests in higher education, whatever the subject is. I think when people are allowed to pursue their interests, they are happier people and are more likely to be successful in their studying if it's something they're interested in.

Of course it is. I'm certainly not talking about changing that.

A friend from the creative writing side of the degree originally went to study economics (or something like that) in London because his parents wanted him to. He hated it and also became ill, I believe. So in the end, he dropped out and signed up for English and Creative Writing at my university. Following his passion (and the subject that he was actually better at) and, in a romantic sense, his heart.

Good for him. Not sure of the relevance, but quite right for him to do what he wants not what others want him to do.

Would you say that maths, science and engineering are more 'difficult' than the other subjects, though? I'm not sure I would say that. How difficult a subject is depends on what the individual's skills and aptitudes are for. For an artistically or creatively inclined individual, maths and science will be more difficult, but for for someone who is very talented at maths and science, it will be the creative arts that are more difficult. I remember quite a few students at secondary school who did great in Maths and Science but got D grades in English, for example. Some of them really struggled with it. They were bright kids, they just found English (particularly the more creative side, I suspect) very difficult. And their spelling wasn't always the best, I suspect because they didn't usually enjoy reading recreationally.

So I don't think science and maths are more inherently difficult than other subjects, I think a subject's difficult is subjective. It depends on what the individual is good at.

I used 'difficult' in the sense of how people label them in academia and business circles. This is a bit hazy, and based on no certain fact, but I guess they're called difficult because it requires quite a specific type of disciplined approach to learning a hell of a lot of necessary information and then being able to regurgitate it and apply it to 'real world' situations. Sounds trite, flippant, whatever, but they're highly academic subjects, and hence are difficult subjects academically.

If they weren't such difficult subjects we wouldn't have the shorfall in people taking these courses into higher education. Maybe people are more creatively inclined (or more comfortable dealing with less academic subjects) so it's more natural to be drawn into more arts/humanities subjects. I don't know.

To be fair, some institutions also class certain History, Literature and Fine Art courses as 'difficult'. I suspect because they're 'classical' subjects of ancient institutions.

I think with some people in academia, though, that there is a kind of intellectual snobbery towards creative subjects like the arts. And that's something I dislike. I think every subject is 'valid' whether it be a science degree, music degree, or a sports degree. I remember when I was doing A-Level Drama, one of my fellow Drama classmates was told that she by studying Drama, she wasn't studying a 'real' subject. What rubbish! We did a lot of theoretical and written work in Drama, it certainly wasn't all fun and games. We learned a lot about certain acting and theatre styles. I don't think people should be made to feel less intellectual or less academic because they are studying certain subjects. I think they all have academic value.

i agree. I think there is intellectual snobbery, and yes all subjects have academic value. As i say, i simply think the sciences and mathematics, and in turn medicine and engineering, need incentivising over others to try and quash the shortfall in numbers. It's important to have strength in these areas for the wellbeing of the nation. It's not at all about preventing people from partaking in other subjects. :)
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