In the TED talk, “How Schools Kill Creativity,” Sir Ken Robinson points out the inherent flaws in the drudgery of modern educational methods that discourage independent thinking, dissuade active learning, and bind up some highly intelligent children with wrongheaded one-size-fits-all careerism. I won’t spoil the talk by telling you what he says – do watch it for yourself – but I was proud of his example of how arts education transformed the life of one person, who went on to transform many lives herself.
The notion that educational “rigor” thwarts the development of exceptional students isn’t new. We could go back through the histories and biographies and find examples of great people who railed against the authorities at school and then transcended all expectations. (Think of John Lennon, or of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”) Do we really want to suppress those kinds of people with our new, proud emphasis on a “rigor” whose only stated goal is the acquisition of job skills?