It’s time we educated differently

I’ve spent the last few years hugely frustrated with the world we live in. It was always difficult to define my disappointment in all the things I had believed to be true about the world and the possibilities in store for us all until I watched this.

Ken Robinson put it well when he said “creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.” All kids have tremendous talents and we squander them.

I have a strange set of skills. I am quite good at maths and but I also have an all-consuming passion for dance. If asked which I would rather spend my days doing, what would you think I would say?

Given the choice, I would love nothing more than to hone my art of tap dancing, while training classically in ballet, music and jazz. And yet this option was never feasible for me, because I was also good at maths. It was never an option that I would waste this “gift” that was going to give me a great job, career and hence life.

This gift has, more often than not, been a burden. There have been countless times in my young life where I have wished (and I’m embarrassed to admit this) and wished that I had been born without half the capabilities I have. Then and maybe only then would a career doing what I love have been feasible.

I believe this to be a very sad depiction of the society we live in and what we value. In a technology driven age, children are encouraged more and more to be good at maths and coding. Don’t get me wrong, this is great and sets kids up from a very young age to be independent, entrepreneurial and very much employable.

But on the flip side, what does this say to children who are not naturally gifted at Java and C++? It tells them that they are not intelligent and that their talents are not as valuable to society. This is wrong.

In fact, I would argue that far fewer among us have the capabilities and thought process to be truly original creators of art, in all its forms. Coming back to Ken Robinson’s speech, if you’re not prepared to be wrong you’ll never come up with anything original. How do we expect our children to ever create anything new and original, if we don’t let them create to begin with?

It’s time that we changed the rules. It’s time that we let kids learn what they want to learn, and create what they want to create and value every talent that each child possesses. Maybe then we will see less children suffering from panic disorders and self-esteem issues, and less young adults who are totally unfulfilled in their lives. Who knows, maybe then Ireland will become the country we all want to live in, a place to be proud of, a country that actually makes money and produces the music, stories and culture that we are so famous for.

Maybe in years to come, there will be a chance for a little girl like me, who loves to tap dance more than solve differential equations.