Recently I came across a TED Talk entitled, “Do Schools Kill Creativity” by Ken Robinson, and was immediately struck by the importance of his message. If you haven’t had a chance to see this talk yet—though it is the most viewed TED talk on at nearly 40 million views—here it is:

I have been an advocate for children’s creativity since starting this blog. After I discovered how important it was to my son’s education that he be able to read and imagine stories, it became clear to me that creativity is something that, as Robinson points out, “is as important in education as literacy.”

What I enjoyed most about this TED talk is his claim that all education systems across the world value certain components of education more than others: sciences and math first, humanities second, and arts third. Children are told to give up the things they love when they aren’t “practical” enough, or if their passions won’t land them a job. But with so many people educated in those highly employable skills, the demand for workers decreases, and people find that they’ve given up their creative sides and passions only to be left unemployed and dissatisfied.

I think the point of this talk wasn’t to shame schools, it was to show that some children and some people excel in areas outside of what schools encourage. Children who are highly intelligent individuals are told they are mediocre students, and won’t carry out the creative, brilliant things they are capable of after being given up on in the academic atmosphere they grew up in.

My only critique of this talk—though I realize these speakers are limited in time—is that he didn’t address what was to be done about this problem. Yes, creativity needs to be encouraged. Yes, schools only push one form of academia. But how do we fix this? With budget constrictions, and altogether limited resources, how do we allow students to learn everything? To explore their creativity, but still take those science and math courses? Should there be more charter schools aimed at students with “alternative” talents?

I don’t have the answers. But I am certainly glad the question has been raised, and that people are paying attention. Creativity shaped the course of my life as an author and a father, and I think our world would benefit in many ways from encouraging more of it, so that people don’t “grow out of creativity” as Robinson put it, but rather continue to grow in their creativity for their entire lives.

What is your stance on this TED talk? Do you think schools are to blame for not encouraging the arts and humanities? Let me know in the comments!