rebelling against low expectations

Ken Robinson: How Schools Kill Creativity (TED Talk)


School dominates our lives from an early age and often continues well into our twenties.

The average American high schooler spends nearly 50% of her waking hours on educational activities.

Most states in the U.S. require between 175 and 180 days of school and/or between 900 and 1,000 hours of instruction time per year, depending on grade level.

For young people today, school is our job. We do school-work. We work hard at it.

But many of us are frustrated and we don’t know why.

In this thought-provoking video, educator Ken Robinson puts his finger on that nagging frustration and pushes — hard.

Robinson argues that modern education is fundamentally flawed — that it squanders young people’s potential and narrowly defines intelligence in ways that crush creativity.

His message is aimed at adults (and nearly 32 million have now watched it). But his points are about us. They’re about young people. And we need to listen more than anyone.


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About the author

Brett Harris

is co-founder of and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.


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    • lol! The only thing is(with me at least) I often feel convicted and I’m saying, “Alrighty, my life is going to completely change starting right now!” But then the next day, I still don’t want to get out of bed, I still don’t want to do homework, I still just lie around and watch tv. I hope something really WILL change soon…

      • I always have a hard time doing something if I do not break it down into specific and direct steps. The more unspecific a plan is, the easier it is not to do it. Also the bigger the step, the harder it is to do it mentally. I read a blog called fly lady, it is all about creating habits of success by taking baby steps. It’s motto is that you can do anything for fifteen minutes, and it is true. If you want to help others be more creative, you need to be more creative. So create a plan, decide your next baby step, get a timer (dollar store has great timers!) and work towards your goal for 15 minutes. You can do more later. But 15 minutes is a great start!

      • The only way something will change is if you make it change. No one can do the work for you, which is really sad some days. I completely understand, all I want to do is watch tv, especially after a long day at school (I teach school). The way you can help the world be more creative is starting with yourself. But you won’t be able to change things unless you plan it and schedule it into your day. If you have your plan, it is more likely to work if you break it up into small 15 minute chunks. According to the blog, Fly Lady, “you can do anything for 15 minutes.” She is all about changing things “one baby step at a time.” For me, I want to change the world. I want to make a difference, but just desiring that is not enough, because that overwhelms me, and I end up following the status quo and wasting my time and thus my life and potential. As I tell my students, it is your choice. Will you change? Yes, when you make the choice.

  • I think it’s true that school can crush some creativity. We always have to spend so much time at school. Roughly seven hours at school, and then (depending on how much homework you have) another few hours at home, plus a lot of our attention is devoted to school. Education is important – I’m not saying that it’s not, but there are more important things in life that I am unable to do because all my time is taken up by (sigh) school. Even just useless stuff they teach us at school, classes that will never help me in the real world but I spend countless wasted hours on. Or maybe I’m just so complainy because I’ve had a long couple of weeks 🙂

    • I concur! This coming school year I’m joining a private school for the first time. It will be a huge jump from homeschooling, but at least I will still get a Christian view on subjects.

  • I saw a joke on TV where a mad scientist creates junior high and preteens. Stay with me, it will make sense in a minute. One of his creations was a boy taking algebra and history (any of the subjects in school work in this scenario). When the igor asks if the boy will be able to use that knowledge for a future job, the scientist says yes. Do you know what job that boy could have? A teaching job.
    I understand that education is very important. In fact, I am considering going to college, which is still a gray area and not because of money. It’s just feels like I’m one of the few kids in my class that’s super creative and probably the only one who likes writing about how I feel about something and I don’t like giving generalized response on paper. Wish my speaking was like that.

  • that is so interestng and true! I hate how kids are deemed less important or broken (ADHD) just because they are different or extraordinary! We need to turn back to the Christ based education and away from druggin innocent children!

  • “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original.” Great point.

By Brett Harris
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →