It wasn’t all that long ago that one could drive by an elementary school playground and see children playing on monkey bars and swing sets and there would be no doubt that some of those kids were exercising more than their bodies. They were also exercising their minds. The top of the monkey bars may have represented the top of Mt. Everest. The swings were magically transformed (within the child’s mind) into fighter aircraft or rescue helicopters. Within the confines of the jungle gyms were prisons and offices and perhaps the bridge of a Navy destroyer. In other areas of the playground, students (kids) were taking on the roles of doctor, nurse, teacher, lawyer, astronaut, and so on. Imaginations were at work; creativity was rampant.
Pass by those playgrounds today and you will still see kids playing, but many will be huddled around an electronic game or a video player. Mp-3’s are in use. Television is watched on cell phones. It’s all so realistic that students don’t need to use their imaginations any more. The American education system has not taken creativity away; rather society as a whole has allowed creativity to be smothered by electronics and gadgets that are designed to entertain without the use of the imagination or creativity.
The need to be creative has dwindled. Is it the school’s fault? No, it is not. Is it the school’s responsibility to bring creativity back? Yes, to a certain degree it is. I say a certain degree, because schools cannot be successful without assistance from parents and others. It takes a team to educate a child.
Family and community members must work with the school to bring creativity back. Time must be set aside at home to read and to study. Gifts need to be books and baseball gloves and bikes, rather than electronic game consoles and cell phones. Creativity must be stimulated at home in order for professional educators within the school to do their job to hone that creativity. By allowing our children to play mindlessly we undermine their future; mindless play helps to produce mindless young adults.
Yes, creativity has disappeared in many areas of our lives. School is one of them; it is not the only area, though. And it is not up to the school alone to return creativity to the lives of our young people. It is not the American education system that has taken creativity away from our children. It is our desire for them to enjoy games and other forms of entertainment that has stifled the need for children to be creative and to use their imaginations.