Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.
– Carl Sagan
Words well said from Mr. Sagan. School isn’t the worst place ever. It’s a place were you learn how to interact with people, work in a team, finish things by deadlines and so on, all valuable thins for life. But my experiences have never been of creativity and curiosity. Which is something I’d like to look at for a moment.Please note I am speaking through personal opinions and experience, if you have another experience or opinion I would really like to hear about it in the comments below. It helps me be less biased and form rounded, fair opinions.
Right. With that disclaimer out of the way, I think I should be a bit more positive and pick out the nice parts of school that I have experienced.
In Ireland (were I live) there is the option to do a thing called transition year. An optional year, half way through high school that acts as a gap year. Normal school systems do not apply. Instead of English and Maths you do broadcasting, music, art, enterprising and many other very interesting things. I can speak from personal experience to say it was the best year of my childhood days. I made short movies, started a business, visited a foreign country and other cool stuff. If the whole of school was like that then I wouldn’t be writing this article since I wouldn’t have a problem with school, but like with most things there are problems. For example transition year (TY) was exceedingly expensive.
Another problem is that transition year is an optional year that adds another year of school to the to-do list of any student wishing to leave ASAP. So the majority of students opt out of the year as they never see the potential to do new things. I personally started programming and making games which eventually lead to my passion in life and the creation of this website. However I am the kind of person that experiments, and tries out many different hobbies, unlike some other friends of mine, who, no disrespect to them, had the chance to find out what they want to do in TY but instead used the time to sit back and do nothing for a year. They are now finished school and haven’t got the faintest idea what they want to do.
I believe that they didn’t explore life when they could of because of how curiosity and creativity have been drummed out of them in the years leading up to TY, by the school system. If school from very early ages was designed to strengthen curiosity by the age of 15 people would be more likely to try things out and experiment.
I think it’s also important to take note of what exactly school is doing wrong now. Maths is extremely important in life, so are languages and all the other stuff you learn in school. I cannot stress the fact that it is useful in life, however I have found school’s to never actually teach student’s why something is important. No body has ever told me why literature is important in life.
After studying Macbeth in depth for months on end while in school I had an epiphany and I realized why Macbeth is so great. The way the story is structured, how the character’s interact and many other things. It all made sense to me. I have since applied these self taught realizations to game development, particularly in story writing and of course writing this very article, it is all based on lessons learned in English. No teacher ever told me this however.
The way subjects like Maths are taught also does not encourage curiosity. For example Maths teacher’s never teach you how or why formula’s and theorems work they just say this is it. Accept it. My maths teacher never asked me “David, why do you think I am doing this equation this way?” I was simple told this is how you do it. Accept it. As you can see no curiosity is needed for school therefore no curiosity is encouraged.
Creativity is another thing not encouraged. I am not thinking of creativity in the literal sense like it is used in art to come up with paintings and pictures. Maths can encourage creativity. For example instead of being told how to solve an equation why not show the student the equation first and then help them come up with a solution by themselves. Or in English, instead of spending all your time analyzing poetry why don’t you write some poetry and learn how to do it well.
To wrap up I think it is important to put effort in you’re life in strengthening your curiosity and creativity. If you have kids teach them how to be curious. If you are a kid, give your self a night off from home work and try a new hobby. Take a moment to look at the world around you, take a moment to wonder what it all means, take a moment to question why that is, and remember:
Wisdom is not the product of schooling, but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it
– Albert Einstein