How Schools Stifle Creativity

Creativity is a gift that every human being is born with. As a young child grows the gift must be attended to and cultivated or it withers away. Parents of young children have the responsibility to foster this precious human talent. It is the responsibility that the school system, especially early childhood education, shares in a very large measure. However many schools and early childhood education systems are unable to fully fulfil this function. A number of factors can stifle child creativity at school including: Teaching methods/strategies; subject areas; policy; timetables; and school culture.

Creativity need to be tapped in school and nurtured to grow in children when they are still young. However some people including teachers believe that the child should first grow before the child’s creative talents can be engaged. Sometimes teachers and other adults are over protective of children. Yet young children need plenty of room in which to be themselves and develop their creative abilities.

An example is found in creative activities and performing arts. Where demonstration, as a strategy of teaching, is to be used sparingly, or else, be left out completely. Most teachers would like first to demonstrate to the children how to draw a fish, a cat, or a car. When they do so teachers unknowingly stifle creativity in the learners. It is common knowledge that child Art is different from adult Art. This means that the teacher’s demonstration will create confusion in the young child, discouraging in the child the act of self expression. The children will be left with no option but to copy the work of the teacher. In that case children will never develop in that area beyond the manipulative stage.

Secondly, the children will lose interest and will not like to continue working. They will become bored and give up. In Art like in most things the child does not so much proceed from the intellect as from feelings. Naturally children’s feelings influence their drawings as for instance in their use of colors. Bright colors represent strong feelings. Child art is often filled with bright colors. Whenever children’s feelings are not respected in the teaching-learning process, children will feel discouraged and accordingly their creativity will suffer.

In drama for instances it important that children are not compelled to act the part they would rather not. Children are very acute judges of situations and when they sense that their feelings are violated they get frustrated easily and lose interests.

Creativity at school is not just to be found in drawing and drama, but is to be found in all areas of learning. Language is especially important. Research has adequately documented the fact that mother tongue education promotes child creativity. Where because of policy or practice, this is not happening, children’s creative abilities are stifled.

Finally, other factors at school that may stand in the way of the development of creative talents include harsh and undue punishments, inflexible learning schedules and timetables that cut out spontaneity so typical of children. A rainbow or some dramatic event suddenly occurring in the middle of a school hour can be for the school and for the kids a good opportunity for creative response. This kind of flexibility creates an appropriate school culture that supports and encourages the development of creativity in young children.