Do you have an interest in education? I doubt many people would say no. Having an interest in the education system myself, I became aware of the relation between education and creativity. Spending the recent midterm examination period loathing the fact of having to take tests, I wondered about the negative outcomes they bring.
Standardized tests are implemented in every educational institution from elementary schools to universities. In Korea alone, students between 3rd and 12th grade take roughly four standardized tests per year. As they reach a higher grade, the number of tests and burden increases leaving no spare time to develop creativity. This deduction led me to believe that the education system worldwide is killing students’ creativity because of standardized tests. Let me mention a few reasons why.
Standardized tests kill creativity mainly by instilling a mindset that committing mistakes and being wrong is bad. Ken Robinson stated in his 2006 TED talk, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” that if one is not prepared to be wrong, he or she will never come up with anything original. I agree because, by the time young children become adults, all they have learned is to choose an answer from four to five options and end up being either right or wrong. Not only have they lost the capacity to think imaginatively, but they are also afraid of getting the wrong answer. Thus, students become hesitant on giving something a go and restrain themselves from moving forward.
The time limit also kills student’s creativity. One’s creativity excels when they are able to think and expand their thoughts freely. However, while students are taking tests, they are forced to solve many questions in a specific length of time. For example, when I was in high school, I had to take math tests that consisted of about 20 multiple choice questions and 10 short answer questions in 50 minutes. Although math is a subject that encourages students to search for diverse approaches to a single question, doing so was impossible. Feeling pressured by the clock ticking, I hurried to find one easy and concise solution for each question. As I was urged to think because of the lack of time, I didn’t bother coming up with a variety of creative solutions.
Many people may cast doubt on the negative sides of standardized tests and think that tests are necessary in order to motivate students to think and study. However, I disagree and want people to consider implementing other ways that can inspire students to think and study but with more spontaneity and enthusiasm.
For example, I came upon something called “Clifton Strengths,” an online assessment of personal talent that identifies areas in which an individual has the greatest potential for building strengths. The assessment is designed to give each person who takes it unique feedback. Additionally, it encourages divergent and creative thinking by generating a number of solutions to a problem and encouraging a combination of talents.
As such, a way to achieve an ecosystem that cultivates creativity is by not putting too much emphasis on standardized tests. Trying to reach a balance between standardized tests and other methods is needed. It is important to be aware of the severity of the state and change into an education system that encourages creativity for the developing young generation.