Kill Creativity. Kill it Now.

In a follow-up to my post on The Death of Creativity? is this from an article from MSN:

A national push to make public schools more rigorous and hold teachers more accountable has led to a vast expansion of testing in kindergarten. And more exams are on the way, including a test meant to determine whether 5-year-olds are on track to succeed in college and career.

Yes, you read that right. We’re not talking about tests that pick out genuine disabilities like Asperger’s Syndrome, dyslexia, speech impediments, or similar. No, all kids will now be taking tests beginning in kindergarten so that administrators can “identify the critical thinking skills that employers prize.”

I remember only a little bit about kindergarten, but it involved coloring, glue sticks and safety scissors in the kiddy equivalent of a cigar box, and one monumentally successful Easter egg hunt by yours truly (I got the coveted silver egg and won a large chocolate bunny).

But now it seems that kids will be learning how to be good employees. So much for “children’s garden.” It will now be known as “kinderfabrik.”

And, on a related note, all of this test-taking over the last decade or so has really paid off for our newest crop of high school students approaching college: SAT scores are lowest since 1972.

One thing I don’t agree with in the SAT article is the “blaming” of minorities for lowering the SAT scores. Um, why aren’t minorities getting the same education as white kids? This whole “No Child Left Behind” thing was supposed to help equalize educational disparities between poorer districts and richer ones. You can’t say, “Well, test scores are down because a lot of non-white children are taking the test.” Those non-white children are supposed to have the same education as white children!

And, honestly, how hard is it for the SAT to make a separate data category for kids who don’t speak English as a first language, so you can separate them from the others? That would make sense, since it would allow you to track their progress and see if you’re doing a good job helping them learn English.

If we had a kid, we’d have to find a way to homeschool, because public education is just getting ridiculous.

This, unfortunately, gives me an idea for a story. It will be set in the future where the government regulates all forms of art (and who get to make it). But those people who are born creative will not be denied.

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8 comments on “Kill Creativity. Kill it Now.

  1. I love dystopian stories. Write it! Write it!

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Maybe I could do something with a Hunger Games theme, where art is the commodity hard to come by and every year, those children who test as the most creative are sent into the arena to fight over art supplies and instruments. At the end of two weeks, they must present a masterpiece for judging. The viewing audience will vote on which creation they like best. The winner will become the next artist for Panem and never want for paint and sheet music again. The losers will be gutted for violin strings.

      • Oh my goodness, I had a very loud LOL at that one. My mother glared at me for interrupting her work. Um, you should actually write that as a short story spoof of the Hunger Games. And if you don’t want to, PLEASE let me. I think it would be hysterical.

      • Keri Peardon says:

        I have so much on my plate to write now, I need to write full time and have an assistant to get it all done. I do plan on writing the dystopian story seriously (that’s going to be my NaNoWriMo this year), but you’re welcome to write the Hunger Games parody. I think you should call it “The Starving Artists Games.”

  2. SK Figler says:

    Mass testing in schools is an abomination; always has been. The testers and their governmental over-seers seem to have forgotten/neglected/outright dismissed critical issues such as validity and reliability of their tests. These tests are mis-constructed, mis-applied, and misinterpreted.
    But worse (as you suggest) is what tests replace. Lack of support in school for creativity tells kids that creativity isn’t important in the world they’re entering. That won’t stop kids who have the creative urge, but it may stifle the many who may have it buried or undeveloped and need the pull of legitimation through school.
    The Rudolf Steiner (Waldorf) schools have it right: the arts and mythology FIRST. Also, it is interesting and relevant to note that in ancient China, political leaders were required to be schooled in music and able to play an instrument to an acceptable level.

    • Keri Peardon says:

      One of the things I resent about my education–which I do consider to have been quite good otherwise–was the lack of music and art. And I don’t mean learning to play the recorder (which I did) or coloring or making collages from magazine pictures. I wish I had had REAL music and art lessons, where we learned music and art theory.

      I had the chance to take a piano class in college for free. I was one of four students in the class and I was the only one who had no music background or education. I was close to halfway through the class before I realized 1) that if you put FACE and Every Good Bird Does Fly together you get A, B, C, D, E, F, G and that these letters repeat above and below the scale in sequential order, and 2) that the bass scale also follows this same pattern, but the lettering just starts on a different line.

      That was my big musical insight… in college.

      I never did learn to keep a beat. For whatever reason, no one ever thought it important to drill a metronome into my head, with the consequence that I have the bad habit of speeding up when I get louder and slowing down when I get quieter because I have nothing keeping time in my brain.

      My piano teacher–a concert pianist–never knew what to do with me. I don’t think it ever occurred to him that someone could possibly be that musically illiterate. Luckily for me, I’m a good mimic, so while I typically couldn’t play straight from sheet music–especially when it came to rhythm–I could listen to someone else play it and memorize the way it sounded. I never count beats; I just hold a note or a rest for what sounds like the right length of time.

      Likewise, I might be able to draw a little if I had ever had a class on how light and shadows work, how to sketch a rough figure, how to figure proportions, etc.

      When I hear people playing music, or see them drawing or painting, I feel a little resentful, because I got cheated out of my opportunity to do that.

  3. When our son was screened for kindergarten, they suggested we take him to his pediatrician because they felt he would need to be medicated for school. His test scores and attention span weren’t up to par. I went into homeschooling not knowing what I was doing, but we made it work. Kindergarten and 11 more years (we skipped the third grade).

    • Keri Peardon says:

      Medicating kids irritates me to no end. Now, I do know some kids (and adults) who legitimately have ADHD, and really do need medication to keep focused enough to accomplish anything in life, but, in a lot of cases, it’s nothing that some regular breaks to run around and play wouldn’t cure. Everyone’s mind needs a break, and kids’ especially, because not only are we cramming a lot into their brains everyday, but they have a lot of physical energy.

      Something I learned about standing desks is that they’re much, MUCH better for people who have ADHD. The act of standing burns off some of that extra energy and helps the mind focus. It also makes it easier to fidget (something necessary for hyperactive people). In the alternative, you can sit on a balance ball, because that constantly keeps the muscles working and also allows for fidgeting.

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