Creativity can’t be taught

On February 10, 2014


While some universities are trimming some of the most traditionally fundamental portions of education, in areas such as classics and humanities, other universities seem to be taking a different approach.

An article in Sunday’s New York Times featured many Creativity Studies programs, including a master’s and planned Ph.D. program at Buffalo State, a master’s and Ph.D. certificate at Saybrook University in San Francisco and an online master’s at Drexel.

Though universities should perhaps be praised for being at the forefront of this much-desired skill in the workforce or for being avant-garde in their own philosophies, the question remains: can all skills be taught?

While it is certainly a myth that one is either born with creativity or completely lacks it and thinking outside the box is not a skill that can be honed with constant challenges to familiarity and routine, not every soft skill needed by employers are necessarily things that can be broken down, academically dissected and learned by rote.

The article states that on Bloom’s revised taxonomy, creation is the highest level of comprehension, a skill employers look for. However, many of those skills that employers look for, those that differentiate the great from the good and the good from the mediocre, are skills that are indeed picked up in college but not in the classroom.

Universities need to learn that while they can provide the basics for a good education, and a learning atmosphere conducive to innovative thinking, they cannot mollycoddle and spoon-feed students creative thoughts that will gain them employment in the workforce.

Creativity is hardly the first skill to be tackled by universities. Leadership is another such skill, a minor offered at USF, as well as many others, that was taken on by universities a few years ago.

What will come next? A major in “Working Together?” “Being Collegial?”

Opportunities for students to apply their own expertise in each course to create new knowledge should be strongly encouraged in every course, but a major in creativity seems highly unnecessary and seems like something an employer should be able to see-through quite quickly.

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