11 February 2011

What should we value?

    “Do you think today's educational system values intelligence over creativity simply because it's measurable? Should we value only what can be measured?”

    I was asked this question the very first week of a class that I was taking in response to a forum discussion I commented on, and I let it go unanswered until the last week of class. Perhaps it was because I felt I could not answer it, perhaps because I did not know the answer.  I have an answer now.

    Yes, I do believe that intelligence is often valued over creativity.  Free play and recess are being removed from the curriculum.  Test scores are more important then an art class.  Those who learn differently are labeled as “hyperactive” or “learning disabled” and pushed into resource classes and given excuses as to why they can't learn like the smarter kids.  Students are being told they can't become musicians or dancers or writers or artists because they won't make any money.  There is far more emphasis placed on raising kids who are smart and conform to society then on raising kids who are creative and different. 

    However, I also feel the tide is turning.  Science is telling us that free play is crucial to learning and social development, that the brain is plastic and modifiable far beyond the years previously thought.  There is a push to teach more actively and have student-centered classrooms that acknowledge that creativity and intelligence are valued equally, and that children are smart in all ways.  Teachers are being empowered to teach creatively and engage students more through Iowa Core.  Hopefully soon, the push will be for more creative thinking as needed for a digital world and less fact memorization and teaching to the standardized testing.

    We should not value what can only be measured, for some of our very values; honesty, courage, loyalty and faith, are things very much revered by humankind yet they are not subjected to the harsh measures that we place upon intelligence.  Why then should we value intelligence over creativity?  Why should creativity and play take a back seat to fact knowledge and academic advancement?

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