La Tela di Carlotta
it en

Does school really kill creativity?

Jan 6, 2013

I was in school for 20 years. I’m very good at writing essays (provided I have the right research material) and I have a very good studying method that always gets my students through their exams.

But ask me to come up with anything new, anything I don’t already have some instructions for—a new recipe, game, choreography—and I’ll go blank.

When it comes to creativity, I feel useless. If I’m not given a very specific task, with very detailed instructions, I can’t come up with anything original—or anything at all. I feel like I’m not able to think out of the box.

So are creativity and school really indirectly proportional?


Thomas Edison once said that creativity is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

I, on the contrary, have always thought that some people are creative, others are not. Some people might think hard and never come up with anything original; others are a stream of original ideas—then whether they act on them or not is another story.

Then I came across this speech by Ken Robinson.

“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. […] By the time they get to be adults, they have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.

We’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. And the result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacity.

Picasso once said this—he said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it”.

But then Robinson also defines creativity as the process of having original ideas that have value. Kids don’t really do that.

Maybe Edison and Robinson are saying the same thing. Because if you want to give value to your ideas you’ll need to work hard. But an inspiration—or original idea—will come to you only if you’re able to hold on to your childish self and not afraid of being wrong.

School does not help with that. It does not nurture nor support creativity. It’s a standardised system where you have to give standardised answers.

My teachers would rarely ask us what we thought about a subject or organise games to teach us about nuclear spills, environmental disasters or ethnic tensions. They only followed the books and wanted to know the right answer. They educated us out of creativity.

Funnily enough, my husband is the most creative person I know and also the one who spent the least time in school. He’s never lost his childish creativity and spontaneity.

I envy that a little bit. Sometimes it takes me hours to invent a game for my young students. Then I get to the class, I explain my game and… in seconds they come up with a game ten times better than mine.

So how do we get our creativity back once we’ve lost it?

Maybe by spending as much time as possible with kids or becoming parents and living our childhood all over again through our kids.

And then hope that eventually the education system will go the opposite direction. Away from a standardised system that treats all students the same, and into a customised one in which we personalise education to the people we’re teaching; in which we nurture our children’s creativity, divergent thinking and individual talents; in which “students develop their own solutions, but with external support based on a personalised curriculum”.

It sounds very much like what John Hunter achieved with his World Peace Game. And he’s a normal teacher—a very good and talented one of course—in a normal school.

And thanks to inspiring people like Robinson and Hunter, teachers—even one-to-one teachers like myself—are in an extraordinary position to make a difference in their students way of thinking and studying.

As everything, it is just about getting started and being prepared to be wrong. Because “if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original” and I would say, anything at all.

(Source: http://embed.ted.com/)

Tell me what you think

Did you like it? Do you agree or disagree? I'd love to hear from you.

I think you'll like these

The blog

I write mainly about Montessori, parenthood, and multilingualism. Here are some recent posts.

Montessori
One day a few years ago my husband came home and said, "Why don't we put a mattress on the floor in the baby room? It'd be much more natural". "Never" was my reply. That's how our Montessori journey started. Since then we've been living, breathing and applying the philosophy at home day in and day out, starting from ourselves. Because educating children starts from the parents.
Terrible twos
The organs of the body: workshop for kids
Kids understand if you give them honesty
Bean and seed mosaic
I'm not perfect. I'm aware
DIY yoga cards for kids
Children at the restaurant: let's recalibrate expectations
Don't ask your children to share their toys
Those "good job" that erode our children's confidence
Our Montessori birthday
Living sustainably
Living sustainably for me doesn’t only mean to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It means to make decisions that are sustainable for our planet, the people on it, but also for our life, our lifestyle, and our happiness. It means to take any daily chance to evolve and be happier, healthier, kinder, more responsible and more caring human beings—the only sustainable way for a meaningful future.
Face yoga is an act of self love
Why you should wear the same outfit twice on Instagram
The power of creating habits (and why you should do it, even if you then break them!)
Responsible eating is the diet of the future (Would you like to teach it to your kids?)
The power of NOT complaining: can you do it for a whole month?
Clean up your planet, please!
Infographic: 8 steps to switch to cloth nappies (a guide for reluctant parents)
A personal note on happiness
A personal note on social media
A change of life always widens your horizons
New to La Tela?
I’ve prepared collections on various topics that I’ve written over the years. Perhaps you’ll find one that interests you.

Travel

We sold everything to travel the world for two years. We're currently in New Zealand.

Books

In 2020 I wrote 4 books for the Italian collection “Gioca and Impara con il metodo Montessori” curated by Grazia Honegger Fresco. The collection is a project by Il Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport.

We also implemented the workshops of the last 15 volumes of the collection with Oliver and Emily.

Podcast

On my podcast, “Educare con calma”, I talk about various topics, from Montessori to sustainability. Only in Italian!

Nov 19, 2020 • 25m
Pene e vulva: normalizziamo le parole
Con questo episodio inizio una serie di conversazioni a tema sessuale, perché credo che in Italia se ne debba parlare di più, soprattutto tra famiglie con bambini. L'educazione sessuale è un aspetto importante dell'educazione dei bambini e deve iniziare da piccoli. Un ottimo primo passo è proprio quello di normalizzare parole "imbarazzanti" come pene e vulva e sostituirle alle più comuni pisellino e patatina. Nell'episodio dico che non avevo trovato la storia originale in spagnolo della "gall...
16
Nov 13, 2020 • 13m
"Non sono cresciuto Montessori e sono venuto su bene lo stesso!"
In questo breve episodio rifletto su una frase che ho sentito/mi è stata detta spesso per difendere l'educazione tradizionale (da genitori che crescono i propri figli con metodi più tradizionali come le minacce, i castighi, le punizioni ecc). Ti suggerisco anche come risponderei io. La citazione che menziono nell'episodio è una frase che disse la madre di Jane Goodall, antropologa inglese che ha dedicato la sua vita allo studio degli scimpanzé: "Se le persone non sono d’accordo con te, la cos...
15
Nov 6, 2020 • 16m
La rabbia, le urla dei genitori e una storia tibetana
In questo episodio sono stata ispirata da una storia tibetana a parlare di rabbia e del perché urliamo quando siamo arrabbiati. Riconoscere i perché e analizzare le mie reazioni quando urlo è stato per me il primo passo per imparare a gestire la rabbia. Nell'episodio menziono questo articolo: Spiegare come funziona il cervello aiuta i bambini a controllare le loro emozioni. Mi trovi anche su www.lateladicarlotta.com e su Facebook e Instagram come @lateladicarlottablog.
14

Instagram

I update Instagram almost every day to be "close" to my family far away.

Why La Tela di Carlotta?
I dreamed of the name La Tela di Carlotta. One morning I woke up and in my dreams I had created a blog named just like the American novel (Charlotte's Web). Many years and endless ups and downs later, this web of thoughts and stories is my work. It took me a long time to understand what kind of online presence I wanted and today I know: I'm transparent, I show real life, I don't advertise, I only recommend sustainable brands (and not only because they pay me) and I believe in the value of my blog and my courses—because if we don't believe in the value of our work, no one will believe in it for us.
Carlotta
Carlotta dreaming of La Tela
I know! I don't want it to be over yet either.