WHS is killing my creativity

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I’m in my 12th year of education in the Westfield Public School District, and one thing has become clear: WHS doesn’t foster creativity.

Most tests and quizzes I have received at WHS rely upon a grading system in which the student is either right or wrong. According to the Oxford Dictionary, creativity is defined as the “use of imagination or original ideas to create something.” And as a student at WHS, I bear the ramifications of our school’s ideology—which happens to be killing creativity.

I am aware that WHS’ education system is not the only one impacting students’ creativity, as most education systems are analogous across the country. However, I can only speak on behalf of my experiences. I would not be writing this article if I had accepted the advice to drop Journalism and take an extra honors class my sophomore year. And unfortunately, it has become commonplace in this school to impede the development of students’ creative aspirations.

You might still be wondering: How is such a prestigious school killing creativity?

Sir Ken Robinson said in his TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” that students have become frightened of being wrong because our society has stigmatized mistakes. Psychologytoday.com explains the two possible responses your brain can make when faced with a mistake. The first one is honing in on what went wrong and working to fix and learn from it. The second, which is all too familiar to WHS students, is treating the mistake as a threat and choosing not to think about it at all.

I can sadly say my brain has taken the latter route all too often. My own interpretation of The Canterbury Tales was deemed incorrect by my teacher, leaving my cheeks flushed as I sat embarrassed for the rest of class. The fear of being wrong created a wall between my mind and creativity that only keeps getting higher.

This idea that you can only be right or wrong is what is crushing students’ ambitions. How can we “think outside the box” when the box is always so small and limited?

Yes, creativity is harder to measure than putting some scantrons into a machine that grades automatically. However, that doesn’t mean that the classes that require creative thinking more than critical thinking shouldn’t be important. Dropping AP Biology to take an art and a music class in the same semester shouldn’t merit fear of not living up to this “tradition of excellence.”

In the midst of analytical essays, proofs, and biochemistry, we have lost the true meaning of learning. WHS is producing machines rather than nurturing my creative mind; this school is teaching in black and white instead of color. I don’t want my mind to be trained to be right or wrong. I want to break down the wall.