We need imaginative education
If people did not do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done, said the Austrian British philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein and he was right. Imagination is knowledge.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, school kills creativity, and he was also correct. We take education too seriously, overvaluing the strict academic side of education and discarding learning that hasn’t got a test attached to it. Each course has a one-size-fits-all curriculum instead of multiple pathways, and why not let students create their own degrees? Life is a better educator than school, but many are convinced that life without a degree is not a good enough life.
Lessons outside the classroom always involve creativity and critical thinking skills because the student is in charge, not the school. The archaic strictness of secondary school hinders students, block their abilities unless they protest by learning on their own in their own time.
Education is an opportunity when the student is in charge, not when the system is in charge. Education is valuable when everyone can follow the route that ignites them; some prefer competition, and others prefer cooperation. We need both.
We know there are many different kinds of intelligence, and not all are supported in a school setting. There is no support system for silliness, only seriousness. We need both. Schooling was for the industrial era, and unschooling is for the future. Unschooling doesn’t mean no learning is happening; quite the opposite, the learning never stops.
Students in charge of their learning make better citizens because they learn critical skills like conflict resolution, being good parents, and handling money. When students collaborate, we stand a better chance to create a democratic society.
The school doesn’t teach creativity because creative people create problems, but in school, the problems are handed out to be solved, not made. Creative people are inventors, and how many students would call themselves an inventor upon graduation? School teach for tests, but creativity is a quest. A quest demands the freedom of the adventurer, not the imprisonment of creative spirit as school insists on doing.
How do you write a song that hasn’t been written? How do you solve a problem that doesn’t exist? How do you think of a world that hasn’t manifested yet? Through imagination or what serious people would call silliness. School wants students who sit still and nod their heads. Bad students think differently.
None of us was born to fit in but to stand out, but well-meaning adults don’t understand what it’s like to challenge the giant that the education system is when already swallowed up by the school. School is many children’s worst nightmare. We still insist on sending everyone to this place where daydreaming and absolutely no silliness is allowed. Play is a powerful tool of creativity. In school, questioning eventually ceases because there is only one correct answer to any question.
Grades, according to one intelligence, slowly kill off the other unacknowledged intelligence. Unfortunately, too many children finish school believing they are stupid. This is a global problem, but there are no demonstrations, no protests or strikes.
Unschooling might not suit every child, but it should be an option for the start of life to allow for all types of intelligence to flourish. We always have and continue to favour academic intelligence, and therefore our world doesn’t thrive in new and exciting ways. Play is serious work. Children should play for much longer than they do, and parents should, if they wish, be allowed to be the primary educator in the first five and most important years of their life.
School has organised silliness, never natural fun, which comes from following curiosity and passion. Learning to a standardised test is ineffective as it doesn’t raise intelligence. Many schools think they teach critical thinking when, in fact, they teach questioning within set boundaries.
Einstein thought knowledge wasn’t as important as imagination, but this immense creative power it’s not encouraged in school. Creativity comes from experimenting, exploring and testing. Imagination is daring to be silly. We don’t have to dress up in clown clothes, walk on stilts and tell funny jokes to be silly; it’s enough to disregard the rules of learning and follow curiosity and passion instead of curriculum and required reading.
Yes, education can change the world, but first, we must change education.
Education doesn’t mean learning; learning goes beyond; it pushes, it puts the learner in charge, and the learner makes it their education, not a one-suit-all education. Learning comes from using, experiencing, putting into practice, not from instruction or regurgitation, and not from being tested to a set standard.
The first teachers in life, parents, are the most important as they nurture imagination by letting children play using their natural curiosity. We have to let children play for longer. We have to upgrade the value of parents as educators.
Teachers are taught to control children. Learning has nothing to do with teaching; knowledge is mistake-making repeatedly; it’s following curiosity and following it outside of set perimeters of the educational system.
The education system is a dictator who prefers scientists and mathematicians, but it’s art and humanities that makes life bearable, that lifts spirits, that ignites inner lights. Art comes from imagination. We need art more than ever.
It doesn’t matter if we call a school child-centred; it’s still adult-designed and centres around what suits adults who have forgotten how to be silly. It doesn’t matter if we call school creative; it’s still built on rigid academic values.
If we want creative and critically thinking students, we have to change the education system. We have to put students in charge and remind the adults what imagination is — the ability to access cosmic consciousness and create what is not yet real but can be. Imagination is futurising.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Tina Brescanu