The academic stifling of creative minds

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ART BY TIFFANY CHAN

By TIFFANY CHAN
ARTIST

 The brush is swapped for a heavy textbook. The sheet of music transforms into an essay. The heart of a once passionate artist becomes chained down by the pressure of academics.

 In a world where academic strength is synonymous to intelligence, the voices of creative minds are drowned out in favor of pursuing more “practical” goals: good grades and high standardized test scores. Schools impose straight edge and logical-mathematical intelligence; reprimanding students when they attempt to take a step out the box.

 However, there is a strong benefit in incorporating more courses centered around innovative thinking. Artistic fields should not be undermined in school because they expose students to various learning styles, promote independent thinking and can invoke new passions that may not have been realized otherwise.

 This brings up the question: what is intelligence? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines intelligence as “the ability to learn or understand.” Since people can learn in numerous ways, it can be argued then, that there are multiple distinct types of intelligences. A highly regarded psychologist, Howard Gardner, explores this concept in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences, in which he classifies the nine categories of intelligence. For example, someone with high bodily-kinesthetic intelligence, such as a dancer, can move in sync with their body and mind. Someone with musical intelligence can note the intricacies in music as well as compose pieces. People with spatial intelligence may lean more towards art and sculpting, as they can visualize grand images in their mind.

 Of course, no two people are truly the same, and remembering that differences exist is crucial. In my case, I have always been the artist and musician in the family. As a child, my parents could not catch me without a pencil in my hand, either writing or drawing on any paper I could scavenge; in addition, I have played the flute for eight years—four of which I have spent in the Royal Wilson Marching Alliance. However, my brother is my polar opposite; he excels in the world of coding and figures, where everything is explained by logic.

 When our report cards come home, anyone can see the difference between our academic strengths. Even so, the talents I possess are not any less valuable. In fact, balancing these different strengths can be beneficial as the student learns to become innovators and inquirers. If a school focuses primarily on is academics, then the students may not realize their full potential due to the unique learning styles everyone holds. Discovering and cultivating my passions changed me for the better, and that should be the goal for any classroom.

 However, in many classes that students take, teachers often force a “my way or the highway” mentality and shut down any opposing arguments. Once celebrated in childhood, the students’ creative voices are silenced as soon as they enter classrooms that promote clean-cut answers. This narrow teaching style in turn creates more followers than doers as people become obedient listeners who then instinctually suppress their questions.

 When no one questions the information that is given to them, how will we ever create new ideas? The brightest inventors and creators are those who question the standards, turn things on their heads and bring forth new thoughts to the table. When there are no more creative thinkers, there is no more growth. Therefore, stigma of creativity being less important must disappear for things to change.

 Rather, imagination cannot be obtained from a how-to guide; it is something that must be nurtured. When a classroom provides a creative environment, the skills and lessons learned can be implemented anywhere, whether it be thinking outside the lines or utilizing a talent.

However, it is important to remember the strength and necessity of academics. Just as there are those who are creative and imaginative, there are those who are methodical and logical. Regardless, a person will naturally find where their interests lie and which category of intelligence they fall under.

 Ultimately, there has to be an understanding that being the top of the class does not mean everything, and pursuing that artistic passion is something to be applauded, not suppressed. Individuals are unique, and creativity brings out each of our unique ways to express ourselves. All in all, there are people who will not find happiness in numbers, but their imagination instead. With that said, why not decide to color outside the lines?

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