By Madelyn Jacks
High school, the place that you’re supposed to blossom in, has killed your budding creativity with an unhealthy dose of Ortho Weed B Gone.
Creativity is structured and only allowed to flourish at certain times during certain classes. I want you to imagine yourself drawing something. It doesn’t matter what is it as long as you are expressing yourself. Can you? I would struggle to come up with something.
Education is simultaneous progression and regression. While American schoolchildren learn to divide and multiply, knowledge is added and creativity is subtracted.
Students are told to write a report or make a PowerPoint show about a topic. They might yearn to express their creativity, but consequences can follow the brave decision to be different.
“The biggest consequence that I have faced has been that I have been limited in my creativity and that has caused me to need everything to be black and white,” senior Grace Branam said. “Even creative projects have boundaries on them. It’s crippled my creativity. They want you be creative when you’re younger and then you enter high school, they expect you to flip a switch.”
Too many things are dependent on grades. Lower car insurance premiums, college acceptance, scholarships, athletic eligibility and club participation require students to maintain average or above average grades. The pressure of grades and the repression of creativity hinder students from utilizing assignments to display their talents in fear of a bad grade.
“When I was in seventh grade, we had to do a social studies project, and we had to do a presentation. . .I wanted to make a video,” senior Jamie Fannin said. “The teacher would not have graded my project if I made the video, so I had to make the PowerPoint.”
Unless students have the freedom to discover their niche, they will not have any idea as to what career they want to pursue. Students are in desperate need of revealing what drives them. Without this essential element, high school will prepare students to academically excel in college without having a clue what they should focus their excellence in.
“I have a few ideas about what I might do later in life,” senior Sabrina Maristela said. “But I really don’t know how good I’ll be at it or even if I have what it takes to get there.”
Teachers should emphasize creativity just as much as the curriculum. Knowledge cannot benefit its possessors if it cannot be utilized correctly. Students might be able to do long division, but the lack of innovation will offset the benefits of education. Understanding long division might be advantageous knowledge for the ACT and SAT, but what about life after high school?
Simple alterations to a class project can provide students with more outlets for their imagination. Instead of requiring students to make PowerPoint presentations, allow them to convey the same information through different mediums (music, art, etc.). Place the focus of any assignment on students’ self-expression, not the methods through which students express proficiency.
“It is exhausting, at times, to break the teacher-pleasing cycle,” Spanish teacher Kim Gill said. “But it can be done — especially if teens are receiving this subtle message from various adults.”
Any class can promote creativity, but students and teachers must realize this potential so that students can discover their true selves.
“[Teachers], get out of your comfort zone,” Math teacher Julie Coyne said. “Because of my crazy personality, sometimes I come up with crazy examples, and my students seem to like them.”
Providing students with an array of assignments establishes an environment in which students adhere to a rubric with themselves in mind. This encourages students to display their talents while completing projects promoting creative thinking.
“I think with my classes, it is much easier for me to engage the students in various ways and I’m able address most of those talents in my classes,” said VU adjunct professor Kathleen Kersey. “That’s why I teach. Otherwise I’d probably go home.”