Education is designed to suppress creativity!

After years of being involved in educational system, I came to this believe that the educational system is designed to suppress creativity. One of the most important aspects of creativity is that it depends on one particular person physical, mental, and societal characteristics. So, it is something that one could  and would do while someone else might do it in other way. So to speak, the particular creativity is not transferable among people (it is like finger print).

On the other hand, once you are designing a system, you cannot afford to respect diversity. This is the downside of every system, that is, it has to consider every of members of society indistinguishable from one another in making laws. The foundations of any system is based on something  in common in most people or something that should be enforced, anyway. The education system is no exception in this regard. It is designed to deliver some basic materials necessary to do some tasks in a given time. It does not depend on any of students characteristics, and it does not care about those features at all.

To my understandings, the educational system is designed the same way as the highway traffic system. The speed limit, and the deriving rules, are designed in a way that is independent of the type of particular vehicle. This may have some justifications for cars, but for human and particularly education of human being, I don’t think so.

Educational system is not optimized to teach every students how to enrich their abilities and talents, but, it is completely the other way around. It is based on society needs and characteristics. There are some tasks in the society needs to be done, and someone should do it, so educational system is optimized so that it can train enough number of people to do those tasks. To support my words, I encourage you to read UC Berkeley mission statement as one example. So, educational system is designed in a way to uniformize all the students, however, make sure that they receive some minimum education set by some standards. There is no more into it.

I should further mention that this problem resists to stay even in the graduate education system. Even there, usually PhD projects are defined before the students arrival, and basically, the nature of project defined for students does not depend on the students abilities, as it depends on the funding and possibly the job market.

Furthermore, usually the laws of any particular system are enforced below the average response, since after all this law should be respected by everybody not matter what. So, even within this education system, it slows down the fast-paced students. For fast-paced students it is like deriving a Porsche in Canadian highways, where still you can not go faster than 100 km/hr legally.

The conclusion is that if you are different, and if you can understand materials quickly, basically the educational system does not work well for you. The longer you stay in the system the more you learn to forget your own features and replace it with what you have been thought. It is no accident, it is designed this way. This problem is more obvious by looking at the grading system, where all the students actions boils down to a number, independent of how students have done it! (For example, you can solve a mathematical problem in the most ingenuous way, and receive the same mark as someone who has done it in the most doll way.)

I should mention that there are people in academia who remained creative, and people often use some of their creativity in solving problems, but my point is that the educational system is not based on students creativity. To be honest, I think if we want to have a central educational system, this is the price we have to pay (I keep open the possibility of not having central educational system).

I do believe that for higher education (especially PhD programs) it is possible to define students-depend type educational path. So the job of university and the corresponding advisor should be understanding students abilities, and then mutually define a project suitable for him/her, and then recommend him to surpass his abilities through the project (usually it is the other way around, i.e., there is a defined project and faculty members are looking for someone to do it).

At the end, I encourage you all to view the following TED talks  on the education :


6 thoughts on “Education is designed to suppress creativity!

  1. The corporate economic system is not any better. Orders are issues from top down and have to be obeyed. Some degree of order is necessary and some bosses/supervisors/proffesors show flexibility but the problem is a system design problem. There are two ways to manage a social system like a school or a corporation. Via a top down hierarchie or via a guided collaboration among equals. There are two problems. Education must be redesigned so that people learn what they need without too much specialization. The second problem is that of tools. The too tools of individual and production

  2. Very Interesting topic and discussion. Thanks Fred. 😉
    I have two questions or say comments.
    1- We have a very big system in nature (and many subsystems). It seems that nature (at least for biological diversity) respects diversity. Do you think it is possible to build an educational system based on systems in nature in a way that it somehow respects each person’s talents? My question is very broad and I know I should clarify many thing about the system in nature. But for now, I think you get what I mean.
    2- Since the current educational system starts from early ages, don’t you think it is very late to start considering talents in graduate level ? There is no marker or tool before graduate level to identify students talents. So , how in graduate level, the system or supervisor could develop a project based on student’s talents in short time ?

  3. Thanks for your comment. I think that it is possible to establish an education system which would respect diversity from the beginning. However, I think that it work only for private schools where they are less financially bounded. Since, respecting talents, and encouraging them would require a lot of teaching to the instructors, and also require some extra educational tools, etc.
    Again I should emphasize that by respecting diversity, I do not mean we should tolerate every students misbehaviours. We just need to give them more freedom in designing their own solution to a given problem. For example let us focus on mathematics teaching. We don’t need to teach students about algebra right away, we can let them to develop their own concepts. At the end we may offer the general setting as an alternative. I am in favour of concept-based teaching rather than method-based teaching, where teacher impose a problem and let students think about it, and then try to present what has been done so far. The grading system would definitely need to be changed. Turning every efforts into a number, does not provide any indication of students contributions, and depth of knowledge.
    To answer you second comment. Yes, university may be rather later to start, but since PhD program, for example, is already based on student-advisor interaction, it is easier to implement without changing much in current educational system. The only thing need to be changed is the intention behind advisors in taking news students.

  4. Pingback: Incentives suppress productivity for creative jobs! | didgaha

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