Do Schools Really Kill Creativity?

Jared Cooney Horvath is a globally recognized Science of Learning expert committed to helping teachers, students and parents achieve better outcomes through applied brain and behavioral science.

Creativity In The Classroom

Do schools kill creativity?


This question has captivated us for some time, as evidenced by the fact that Sir Ken Robinson’s famous 2006 TED Talk on this very topic has garnered tens of millions of views (and counting).


It’s a relatively simple -- but important -- question. The problem is, most people fail to approach it with any sense of rigor or precision.


Take Ken Robinson’s talk for example:


Sure, his stories are good, and he delivers a humorous set that would give most comedians a run for their money …


But when it comes to creativity, he speaks in platitudes, and doesn’t actually offer anything deep or meaningful on the subject.


So, in my latest 'From Theory to Practice' video, I chose to examine a new research article that taps into the creativity vs. education debate with the degree of scientific rigor that it deserves:


The Effect of Semantic Memory Degeneration on Creative Thinking (Tamara Paulin et al, June 2020)


Here are some of the questions I tackle in this installment:

  • What exactly is creativity (from a neuroscientific perspective), and what are some of the ways we traditionally measure this quality?

  • What is the difference between episodic and semantic memories, and why is this distinction important to the concept of creativity?

  • What is the most basic answer to the question, “How can I be more creative?” … and what does this suggest about how we should approach creativity in education?

Give it a watch, and let me know what you think in the comments.


And, as always, if you find this video valuable, interesting and/or entertaining, you can support us by liking, sharing and subscribing to our YouTube channel ;)



Video Transcript

Hello everybody, and welcome to this week's From Theory to Practice, where I take a look at the research so you don't have to.


The article I’ve selected this week is called The Effect of Semantic Memory Degeneration on Creative Thinking by Tamara Paulin and colleagues.


Now, this is an example of a pure neuroscience paper that shoots right at the heart of an important educational issue … and in this case, that issue is the creativity debate.


So, you probably are well versed in this debate; you know there are a lot of people out there who have been arguing for a long time that school kills creativity, and that when we sit kids down and we teach them, we’re killing their ability to think uniquely and combine ideas.


But is that true? Well, that's what this paper unknowingly taps into.

Click to view remainder of the transcript ...

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