Creativity and Curiosity

The Core Values statement of most any modern school mentions instilling creativity in the students and making them into life-long learners.  But maybe students are born creative and are filled with curiosity right from the beginning.  Maybe there is something in the modern approach to education that is crushing creativity and curiosity.  As any parent knows, little ones are constantly curious, always observing, and wanting answers to everything.  But that curiosity seems to dry up after a few years of modern education.

Carl Sagan observed, “You go talk to kindergartners or first-grade kids, you find a class full of science enthusiasts. They ask deep questions. They ask, ‘What is a dream, why do we have toes, why is the moon round, what is the birthday of the world, why is grass green?’ These are profound, important questions. They just bubble right out of them. You go talk to 12th graders and there's none of that. They've become incurious. Something terrible has happened between kindergarten and 12th grade.” 

Einstein likewise saw that, “It is little short of a miracle that modern methods of instruction have not already completely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry. . . . I believe that one could even deprive a healthy beast of prey of its voraciousness if one could force it with a whip to eat continuously whether it were hungry or not. ” It is the modern methods, particularly the forced, lock-step march through a one-size-fits-all curriculum, that are crushing curiosity and creativity in children. 

Until about one hundred years ago, all children learned independently.  As mentioned elsewhere, the multi-aged classroom is not an experiment.  The modern factory school is the experiment and it is an experiment that has failed tragically, in slow motion. C. S. Lewis said, “When we have lost our way, the quickest way forward is usually to go home.” The time has come to return to what worked, to independent learning.