Home > higher education, innovation, Uncategorized, What's in my head now? > Why Do Schools AND Corporations KILL Creativity?

Why Do Schools AND Corporations KILL Creativity?


In every company I’ve worked for, innovation and creativity have been applauded…sort of.

Executives encourage innovation in business, but many times unless strategies comes across to the rest of the business as “their ideas”, the executives are not happy. I contend that this is one of the reasons start up businesses have become so popular amongst the younger generation. Gen Y does not hold back. They are ‘connected’, literally and figuratively, and have grown up accustomed to any information they want at their fingertips. In a corporation, if a Gen Y is sending his ego maniac boss an idea that may be big business, you can bet they have also IMed it to 10 other people too…just to ensure they get credit. I’m on the cusp of Gen Y / Gen X – but I say, “go for it Gen Y”. There is nothing that will slow down a company more than corralling innovation. Gen Y has been brought up in the world of “positive reinforcement” and whether this is monetary or a simple ‘nice work’ email, this is what we have been conditioned to recieve…and you can be sure that we will not sit back while someone else gets the “kudos”. I know I won’t.

Some companies truly do embrace their Gen Ys opinions and have taken the time to understand how to motivate and work with them. These companies currently have the largest profit margins. Apple is a great example of a company that serves the Gen Y population. While Mr. Jobs is running the company, he’s smart enough to know that the people that will “spend money on gadgets” – even if they have to steal it from their parents – should be a large part of all of his strategies.

If we look at how schools teach today; unless a student is part of a Montessori school or private school, they are following the same lesson plans everyone else is. The students in “gifted” classes may get a bit more leeway and have a bit more room to be creative, but not much. Conform, conform, conform is all students are taught. Read the information and regurgitate the information. Education, even higher education, has fallen into this trap as well.

Is it that our businesses have sprung into downplaying creativity because they are a product of our public school system?

Ken Robinson made a revolutionary speech regarding just that at TED 2006

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  1. April 14, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Awesome video. Have you ever heard of John Taylor Gatto? He was a NYC public school teacher for 30 years, and when he retired he wrote a public letter to parents apologizing for damaging their children, because he realized that our formalized education is destructive. More info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

    • April 14, 2010 at 2:42 pm

      Thanks! I liked the wiki article and am interested to learn more about him / “compulsory schooling”…sounds like its right up my alley.

  2. May 11, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    Hi Jamie, I thought you’d enjoy this article from Ed Catmull, the President of Pixar — he is clearly quite good at building a culture that can embrace creativity and innovation (which is probably the piece many organizations and schools are missing: the right culture).

    “How Pixar Fosters Collective Creativity” – http://bit.ly/bchu1f

    • May 12, 2010 at 8:58 am

      I read the article and liked it a lot as it not only gave the idea, but also told how to execute. What I realized while reading this was the reason I didn’t “love” the last company I worked for…so it was somewhat eye opening for me. Previously, while at the Kaplan Inc. conglomerate, not only was creativity welcome, but it was also appreciated and approached as a team. One of the first and best lessons I learned in management is always use “we” instead of “I”; whether it be a client, colleaugue, employee, etc. This article shows the power of “we” versus the power of “I’. I’m going to blog about this in a bit (with a shout out to you of course), and will write more then when my thoughts are in order, but I sincerely appreciate this article; it’s one of the best I’ve been sent in a long time.

      • May 12, 2010 at 11:05 am

        So glad you liked it. I have a ton of respect for Dr. Catmull!

  3. May 31, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Great post! I love TED talks, but this one was really up my alley. I feel so strongly that Sir Ken is right: our education systems disadvantages those that don’t fit the “norm.” I managed to get through public school with most of my creativity intact, but I wonder what different turns my life would have taken had there been less structure and more exploration. No wonder so many parents are turning to home schooling.

    I suspect this post of yours will inspire a post over at Everyday Bright. As I’ve said before, the gift of inspiration is hard to beat. Thanks!

  4. December 15, 2010 at 1:27 pm

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  1. April 9, 2010 at 4:52 pm
  2. April 10, 2010 at 9:30 pm
  3. April 11, 2010 at 4:24 am

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