Posted by: Blue Heavens | 10 July, 2007

Creativity vs Education (vs Society)

Have you ever realised that the smartest talents the world has ever seen have had warped educational backgrounds? The most famous being the story of Einstein, or in the modern days, the dropping out of Harvard that led Bill Gates to build the system that I’m using currently.

Sir Ken Robinson spoke about education that undermines creativity. He talked about teachers in a normal education stream restricting the creativity of students with the normal ways of teaching and discipline control.

I agree and don’t agree to that.

I agree to that statement that the classroom kills the special talent that a kid might have, as mentioned by Ken, but I believe that the education system, the school, the classroom and the teacher are not the only culprits in keeping the cat in the box. A few other factors come in here.

Society, especially that of Singapore, has made it such that the common requirements of education is not based on something that deviates from the normal subjects based on a goal towards industrialization, as Ken described about the coming about of the modern education system. Such that with this societal demands and stereotypes, the parents, the relatives, the extended family, the friends of friends are part of this societal massacre that kills creativity. There exists the social pressure that a kid should go the “normal” way, take up as many science subjects as possible, do the common courses in college, especially law, medicine and engineering. However, i think that we should totally dispose the notion of science = good and clever, arts = lousy and stupid. Otherwise, where would Singapore find the successors to film makers like Jack Neo.

Profiling. Or social classification in this case. This is somewhat linked to society and the education system that I have mentioned above. Coming from a marketing point of view, the social profiling of school children should move beyond the science and arts categorisation currently used in schools. Anyone outside that, ends up in “special” schools for the mentally retarded. I understand that coming from a government or education ministry’s perspective that such a profiling is easy and simple for classifying the courses, the education streams and the subjects. However, this is causing more of a bottleneck such that everyone is thrown into the same bottle, where those who do not fit in try to get out of that “clique”, out of the bottle, where in the process of getting out, they are competing with quite a few others doing just the same thing. So, the successful ones climbed out of the bottle which presents them with a chance to showcase themselves in the other arenas, whereas the rest are still squeezing themselves out of the bottle neck, still stuck in “no man’s land”.

I understand that the education syllabus is changing in Singapore. With the creation of the through-train courses, the integrated programmes, the sports school and everything, I agree that it allows more breathing space for creativity, but it also creates elitism in the “science and art” area, but I guess that’s another issue on its own.

We should come up with more effective methods, so I urge you to push ahead with whatever LOGICAL and RATIONAL movements that will ultimately improve creativity, improve education styles, which will in turn drive Singapore on all fronts other than from the economical and pragmatic stance that the Singapore government took to build the country in the early days. With the economy stabilizing, it’s time to work towards the sociological end and push for a more dynamic education system.

Standardization is good, but it’s time to focus on things which are unable to be covered in the standard categories.

End of my thoughts….

Here I bring you Sir Ken Robinson, presented by TED in Feb 2006.



  1. Hey, so you saw the talk, cool … he’s even written a book on it, you might find that to have more compelling arguements … check it out.

  2. nice message, what i find encouraging is that your opinion is not uncommon amongst people below 40 in Singapore today. There might yet be hope, meanwhile, people like us who share a similar view must continue advocating and talking to everyone who will listen about this!

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