When we start talking about whether or not, say, creativity or critical thinking can be taught, one problem I think is that educated people have trouble imagining what not being taught those things (or actively having them beaten out of you) looks like.
Consider this scenario shared with me just yesterday by email from a teacher in an urban charter school:Favorite student story of the day:I assigned their first writing project today -- a personal literacy narrative because we just finished reading the narrative of Frederick Douglass (our class mantra is “literacy is liberating”). On my rubric/guidelines I wrote, "Don't forget to give your narrative a unique title -- this is the first thing a reader will see!"This is the conversation that followed:
An honors student: You mean we have to title the paper ourselves?
Me (with a snarky tone): Yes. who else would title it?
All students in unison: The teacher!
Me: Are you serious?
All students: Yes
Me (took a deep breath): If I catch anyone titling their paper "My Literacy Narrative," you will lose points, and I will make you wear a name tag that says, "Hi, my name is boring."
Multiple students began frantically erasing the top of their papers.
Apparently, every paper their freshman year was titled for them. [emphasis added]
Or, put another way, is it possible schools can only cause people to lose creativity and critical thinking but not teach it?