Spotlight on Creativity

The following is a quote from Ken Robinson’s book

“Out of Our Minds- Learning to be Creative” by Ken Robinson. 

“One of the main reasons that so many people think they are not creative is education.  Picasso once said that all children are born an artist; The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.  Creativity is not solely to do with the arts or about being an artist, but I believe profoundly that we don’t grow into creativity; we grow out of it.  Often we are educated out of it……The dominant forms of education actively stifle the conditions that are essential to create development.  Young children enter pre-school alive with creative confidence; by the time they leave high school many have lost that confidence entirely.  It is important we understand why this happens.”


Like what you hear?  Does this light a fire within you?  Want to learn more about creativity?  

Take the online class “Creativity in Crisis”  from AOE in August (still spots available) where we will explore the writings of Kenn Robinson, among others,  and learn more about what is lacking with our nation’s creativity and how we can nurture our students and selves to become more creative! Classes do not have face to face or online specific contact times. You work at your own pace according to due dates.  Perfect for your busy schedules and it’s all online. You can earn a graduate credit from Madonna University for taking this course through AOE. It’s your choice to take the class for credit or no credit.

Our first course, Blogging for Art Educators is underway and I can tell you right now I have never seen such a wonderful group of talented art educators work together as well as I have in the first week of this class.  Participating in a course with other art educators has changed the dynamic of PD for art educators for the better and they are working right now on setting up their own blogs.  Missed this one? I’ll be offering it again in the fall.


Sign up today!  More information is on our Classes tab at the top of this site.

What do you think of this quote?

How does it make you feel? 

Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is the Founder and President at AOE. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.


  • Clare

    Sir Ken Robinson was at this years NJEA Convention….I had the pleasure of hearing him speak. Great lecture!

  • Brooks

    As you quoted abooce, Ken Robinson says that we are all born creative and the educational system sucks it out of us by the time we’re a few years into school. I love reading his books, watching him on TED and listening to him in person, but the truth is you teach in an public school educational setting with a curriculum based on a district mandated, formulaic scope & sequence… so then aren’t you perpetuating what Robinson dislikes? I am playing devil’s advocate here….So how do you get beyond this catch 22?

    The best teachers are usually the ones who don’t do things “by the book.”

    • Brooks

      As you quoted above…

  • You are exactly right. Every single thing we do in the public schools (even in the art room) goes exactly against everything that Robinson talks about. My goal with promoting his work and his ideas is this:

    1. If I am not educated on what it truly means to be creative, how I can be an agent for change in our schools? First step is knowledge and awareness and then comes the action.
    2. Sometimes are stuck in a system we don’t agree with. We do what is easiest, and what is asked of us, regardless if we know it’s not best for kids.

    As my own children grow up, I am going to learn as much as I cannot only influence my own district (when we go under curriculum review again I am hoping to have some pull to change what we do based upon this new research). And also to fill in the gaps for my own children based upon what I know they are not getting in the school system and provide some of those things at home.

    Baby steps. It’s such a hard balance between structure and systems and creativity that Robinson is talking about. It’s actions vs. theory and as I follow this journey and help to educate others about new ways of thinking hopefully we can all be agents for change.

    Thanks for brining up the hard stuff. How do you deal with this disconnect in your art room? Are you able to teach what you want, when you want, how you want?

    I also think the best teachers are not always those who don’t follow the book. The best teachers are well rounded and have a good foundation in art concepts, creativity, art criticism and everything else we do. Good teachers are balanced. We are all constantly striving for that balance. Some of the worst teachers I know lack any structure or curriculum and their art room is a free for all. That is not best practice either.

    Lots to ponder!

    • Brooks

      A great source for advocating for a more “creative” approach to arts education would be using the book and resources from “Studio Thinking: The Real Benefits of Visual Arts Education” by Lois Hetland (and others). The book is from Howard Gardners’ Project Zero Group (Multiple Intelligences). I think I wrote to you about this book on an earlier post – can’t remember. Howard Gardner is well respected and his theories are part of our culture and understanding of differentiated instruction, so it would be easy to present to administrators who would be making curriculum changes.

      I totally revamped my elementary lessons towards the “Eight Studio Habits of Mind” which is in the book, and have not looked back. I am lucky because I have never taught in a mandated system, but that is not to say that my first few years were very creative. I am able to teach what I want, when I want, how I want, but that does not mean that I am not held accountable for what I teach. I am my own worst critic and I constantly need to improve, adjust and challenge myself or I get bored. I think it drives my Principal crazy, but I am always trying to help improve structure and systems in the entire school. I just decided that next year I will take all the Gifted and Talented 5th graders for an hour a week because our district does not offer this service – and they crave the challenges I can provide. My degrees are iin wholistic education, as well as art, so this may be where my approach comes from.

      My scope and sequence has evolved into lessons that teach about cultures and their arts with reading and writing. After a while I felt that the skill lessons and other lessons based on Elements and Principles felt shallow, so I looked at the ENTIRE PICTURE after I read the book above and stopped pulling bits and pieces out of context and the students are a lot more creative now because they see the whole picture and they understand why they are learning it. Similar to Understanding by Design. I have a definite structure. I always tell the children that the art project is like creative writing – you have parameters, but beyond that, it is up to your imagination and creative inspiration.

      Surely many teachers create lessons this way? Honestly, I think the book just gave me a professional support for advocating for wholistic art teaching.