Several years ago, I received a letter from the Indianapolis Superintendent of Schools. The letter went something like this:
Whenever I visit a classroom of first or second graders I ask the class, “Can any of you dance?” As you might expect almost all the children in the class will enthusiastically raise their hand.
I‘ll then ask, “Who in this class knows how to sing?” Again, almost every hand goes up, some will even demonstrate their singing abilities.
Finally I’ll ask, “And who can draw?” And of course, every hand is up and waving. These children can do it all. It isn’t a matter of quality. They don’t know who Picasso is and they don’t care. They simply know they can sing, and dance, and draw.
When I visit a class of eleventh or twelve graders, I’ll repeat these same questions:
“Who in this class can dance?” Several hands will be raised, but frankly, the majority of the class looks around sheepishly to see who is raising their hands and who is keeping their hands down.
“Who can sing?” Not quite as many hands go up. Their glances are even more sheepish.
Finally, I ask, “And who can draw?” Almost no hands go up and nobody is looking up.
Something has dramatically changed for our children between first and twelfth grade. Their belief and their self-perception in their ability to express themselves and express their creativity has been dramatically altered between first and twelfth grade. Creativity and self expression has been driven out of their self-belief system.
How different would my life be if I believed I could dance, sing, and draw (without embarrassment)? How different would your life be?
The all time most popular TED Talk is Ken Robinson’s presentation “How Schools Kill Creativity”. You can click here to view it.
Can you dance?
Can you sing?
Can you draw?