The Creativity Killer

Innovation is crucial in today’s society, but is it being suppressed by today’s higher education system? Today’s college system has a very linear style of teaching. This means it doesn’t let students have any choice or impact on the classes, which means that every class is practically the same, with no opportunities for students to innovate or create their own ideas. Most students aim to go to college after high school, whether they are pressured into it or just feel patient about it. At least that’s how it was for me. Throughout my years of school, I felt like creativity was slowly getting replaced with linear tasks and busy work. This was very gradual and consistent all the way from pre-k to college. Although creativity is a very sought-after and valuable trait,  it’s clear that the higher education system does not let its students express and explore it enough.

I’ve always been a creative person, trying to push the boundaries of every assignment and project that I get. Ever since I was young, I was encouraged to be creative. In pre-K, my day consisted of drawing, building with Legos, and singing the ABCs; all of this was encouraged and applauded. Every time I would make a terrible drawing, everyone would act like it was the best form of art since the Mona Lisa. This early start played a huge role in shaping me. This is well said by García when she wrote, “Creativity is an important part of our individual and collective identities.” (García et al. p. 2). This early encouragement of creativity plays a crucial role in two days of innovation and idea-making. And at this age, there’s almost no educational value; instead, the goal is to make kids socialize and build their creative side. As I made my way up to elementary school, the educational value of class increased dramatically. I was learning important material that I would soon use in my everyday life.Elementary school still had a big emphasis on creativity, making sure that a student would have an avenue to express themselves. My whole class had art, and the teacher would let us paint whatever we wanted to a certain extent. If you weren’t good at painting, projects like making your own magazine about your favorite animal would keep your creativity alive. From making posters to playing a part in the school play, creativity was a large portion of elementary school. This encouragement of creativity helps me in many unforeseeable ways nowadays. This is best put by García when she wrote, “Personal characteristics such as creativity, initiative, and common sense are useful for everyone in work and daily life.” ( García et al. p. 1)Creative experiences have stuck with me throughout my whole life and will continue to stick with me through every challenge I Conquer.

Going into middle school, I experienced fewer ways to output my creativity. Assignments didn’t have as much of a personal factor, but as long as a student wanted to be creative, they would always have an option. For instance, in math class, there could be an option to create your own house and then measure the area using skills the student learned in class. To me, this was the perfect mix of creativity and linear teaching. Many assignments were what I would call guided creativity, ” doing things that have been done before but differently.” ( Florida et al. p. 2). Every student had the option to put their own spin on a project or assignment. It felt like if a student wanted to be creative, they always had a chance. High school was very similar; many options to be creative were still on the table. If I happen to get a good teacher, I had even more freedom, and the assignments and teachers were more willing to let a student take risks “Experimenting and taking risks are important aspects of creativity.” (García et al. p. 2)  Although teachers like these were few and far between, I noticed that paying attention and being involved in class felt a lot easier if there was some input from the students in a creative manner.Getting a dull assignment does not interest me whatsoever, but getting an assignment or project that I actually have to think about and create my own ideas for and that gets my gears turning. Creative assignments and projects would even get me and my friends interested in a topic outside of class; there were times we would sit at the lunch table and discuss cool facts we found out about our topics with my friends, as well as think of new ways to implement them into the project in the most creative way possible. Eventually, COVID came along and stumped a lot of the creativity going on in my high school. Now that everything was digital, most teachers switched to linear styles of teaching. This meant most of the work given was very one-dimensional, things like multiple choice and short quizzes Became the norm to try and make sure students were paying attention. Before COVID hit, high school was less creative than everything before that, but at least the students had an option and ways to make it happen.

As I started applying to colleges, my main goal was to get the most return on investment; I wasn’t looking at any other aspects. I was hopeful that every college would encourage creativity and have it as one of its key values when I constantly heard things like “Universities can play a crucial role in fostering creativity by providing access to knowledge, talent, and resources.” ( Florida et al. p. 6). I finally decided on going to Baruch College and was excited to start my first semester. When I looked at my schedule, it consisted of classes that any average person would think were on the more creative side. Classes like music, English, and government Seemed like they could have an interesting creative aspect to them. When I first walked into music class, the professor went over how the class was going to be taught. There was going to be absolutely no input from the students, and the only thing we were graded on were multiple-choice tests that heavily relied on memorization. This felt very disappointing when I first learned it. After this, I wasn’t expecting too much from my government class, and I was right for the most part. It did end up having a creative assignment, which surprisingly made the government class more creative than the music class. Thankfully, my English class made up for a lot of the dullness and linearity of the other classes; to a certain extent, we could choose our own topics and develop our own style of writing. This definitely made me more interested in the class because I could carry my interest from a topic outside of class into the class. From past experiences, I assume that the creativity I got from English class will help me “promote the holistic idea of graduateness, the capacity to connect and do things with what has been learned and to utilize this knowledge to learn in other situations” (Jackson p. 3). The creativity of this class will help me use the skills in other future environments. But other than English, every other class felt like I was just a recording device trying to memorize everything the teacher was saying. It felt like there were almost no avenues for creativity; every day blended into the next, and it just felt like teachers were using the same teaching strategy as my teachers during Covitch did. I understood that some teachers’ goals were to prepare their students for a final exam that had nothing to do with the teacher, but even the teachers that could implement creativity into the classroom usually didn’t choose that route, instead opting for an easier route grading-wise. If all the teacher’s assignments are linear, there is no interpretation or thought that needs to be put into grading; instead, it’s easier to just grade right or wrong. If colleges started to include more creative teaching styles, I think it would greatly benefit them in many economic and social ways. “Places that can attract the widest pool of creative talent by harnessing the creative contributions of the most diverse range of people gain considerable economic advantage, emerging as creativity magnets.” ( Florida et al. p. 6). This means that if colleges put more emphasis on creativity, it would help them stand out from their competition and further their name. If colleges want to be on the cutting edge of innovation, then they need to adopt new styles of teaching. This can come in many forms; the correct teachers need to be vetted, hired, and encouraged to facilitate the creativity of their students. Teachers need to be more mindful of their students’ wants and needs and adapt their teaching style to the class instead of having everyone adapt to their style. Although this is a big change, it needs to be made. But not only do teachers need to refine their teaching methods, but the higher-ups at colleges should also take a second look at their mandatory exams and ask themselves if it will help the student adapt the skills in the future instead of using linear teaching methods. Students must also advocate for their own futures and ask their colleges to evolve their teaching styles to best fit them. This point is made as clear as possible by Florida when he wrote, “The changing role of the university is bound up with the broader shift from an older industrial economy to an emerging Creative Economy” (Florida et al.p. 2). College is not adapting quickly enough to modern society. The higher education system is stuck in its old roots and needs to change to best apply itself to the next generation of students and talent. This change definitely needs to be implemented correctly. Many students may suffer from the lack of direction many creative assignments have. This can be easily countered by making creativity an option for creativity. This is exactly what many of my English assignments are. This puts power back into the student’s hands and lets them learn in a way that works for them. Many different subjects would need their own custom application of these values and strategies for them to work efficiently, but implementing these strategies can help immensely. It may be difficult to convince people with older styles of thinking due to the fact that there is no accepted and proven way of measuring creativity; this means reliable statistics on this subject are impossible to find. Instead, a person has to look at the changing culture and society that demand more creative talent. Creativity plays a huge part in today’s society and is only going to become more relevant. The higher education system should adapt to these trends. In order to stay relevant and competitive and move society forward into the new age. 

Works Cited

Florida, Richard, et al. “The University and the Creative Economy.” Creative Class Group, 2006, Accessed 20 May 2023.

García, Presentación Caballero, et al. “CREATIVITY AND HAPPINESS IN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS.” global education forum, March 2018, Accessed 20 May 2023.

Jackson, Norman. “An Imaginative Curriculum.” an imaginative curriculum, Higher Education Academy, Accessed 20 May 2023.

BISHOP, WENDY, and DAVID STARKEY. “Creativity.” Keywords in Creative Writing, University Press of Colorado, 2006, pp. 70–75. JSTOR,                                                                                            Accessed 21 May 2023.