Saturday, November 10, 2007

Killing Creativity

Ken Robinson's makes a great case against public school education. The "system" is not designed for kids who cannot stand being taught by rote and boxed in to conform with established procedure. Those who are lucky, encounter someone who recognizes them to be a diamond in the rough that they are and enables them to achieve their full potential. Many others are diagnosed as having learning disabilities and suffering from ADHD and set up for spectacular failure.

Ms. L, J's first grade teacher told me recently that J among a lot of other things, is an "astute" student. My ex was too and I suspect she gets this trait from him because "astuteness" was definitely lackling in my early education. I am glad for J, because it may be a while before I can fulfill my dream of home-schooling her. Until then, she is on her own and the more she "gets" the system, the better it is for her.

As a child, I never "got" the system and never fared that great. My survival instincts probably kicked in by the late teens and I started giving the system what it expected, instead of fighting it. I would have loved to study at
Shantiniketan , got myself holistic education as was Tagore's vision . An ideal education would have been one that would help me live a graceful, meaningful life.

Somehow that "ideal" as attractive as it was, fell short in achieving the goal of financial independence. Whatever potential I had was killed by the time I got out of engineering school armed with a degree to join the ranks of code coolies. It seems like all I have to show for my existence is the ability to pay all bills without fail - a very sad excuse for a "meaningful" life. I have always had the empty feeling of being literate but completely uneducated.

I would hate for J to waste away as I did. Listening to Robinson's talk fills me with a great sense of urgency to get J away from the system before it rewards her too much for her innate "astuteness". She may no longer want to take a chance and take the road less traveled.

2 comments:

ggop said...

You and both Sir Ken Robinson summed it up - people focus on content which can directly help them find jobs.

Arts/creative field seem too risky for most anxious parents (or is this specific to Asian parents who prefer MBA, law, medicine and engineering disciplines over all else)

I have a question though - I thought the American schooling system was not about rote at all. Am I wrong?

H said...

ggop - The American schooling system is not all about rote – at least note rote in the way us desis raised in India understand it. I am very glad for that.

However, the emphasis in the good public schools is on making excellent grades - that's what bolsters the school's reputation.

As Ken Robinson points out dance, drama and art are much lower in the hierarchy relative to math, language and the like.

J for instance can come up with some really interesting dance moves to almost any kind of music. In a ideal world, I would love for her to learn a variety of dance forms for a couple of years every day.

Formal education can continue on the side. It should not take away from her being able to focus on dance for 2-3 each day. In time, she way want to try other things.

That would never happen even in the American school system. I'll need to home-school her and enroll her into a rigorous dance program.

That's where I feel frustrated. I know J would greatly benefit from a non-traditional schooling but I don't have the wherewithal to give her what she needs.