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2017-09-19 17:13
By Grace Oh



What I have learned about the formula for life success, so far, is to ace the SATs, have straight A’s during high school years, get into a brand-name college, and land a well-paying job. These series of achievements would make my parents proud.

The only way I could reach these goals, I presumed, was to become book smart. Being good at sports, arts, dancing, singing, or any other activity outside of the classroom was not good enough. After all, higher paying jobs are software engineers, corporate managers, or doctors, not dancers or artists. Simply put, money held the key to having a successful life.

Recently, before I started my high school career, I watched Ken Robinson’s TED presentation, “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” I learned three lessons. First, I used to believe intelligence was related to academic performances in school. So called intelligent students often have straight A’s, speak the most during class discussions, and take a leadership position in math club. Nevertheless, intelligence comes in many different forms. For instance, Kim Yuna, the first South Korean skater to ever win a medal in the Olympic Games, possesses bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. Robert Frost, a famous poet, has linguistic intelligence. He is able to write prose that hides complex and deeper meanings. My 7th grade history teacher had interpersonal intelligence. She engaged and bonded with her students by having interest in them. One of my best friends possesses spatial intelligence. She is able to translate her imagination into her work on the canvas.

Second, I used to believe that the level of education is an indicator for success and happiness in life. But I learned from the TED presentation that the lack of education does not mean failure in life. For example, Abraham Lincoln had limited education and was self-educated, but it did not stop him from becoming a greatly impactful and powerful man. Albert Einstein, known for being a genius, failed his first college entrance exam. Despite the failure, he was able to rewrite the laws of nature. William Shakespeare had no sign of formal education at least until the age of 13. Nevertheless, he produced some of the most famous and loved writing.

Third, I learned the importance of creativity. Although Mr. Robinson discussed the significance of creativity focusing on education, I believe it is crucial for any stage in life. When I think of creativity, a clear and memorable example comes to mind. In my 8th grade U.S. history class, students had to display all the items a family would have to take to migrate from the East to West. To showcase, most students displayed either pictures from online or just a list of items and labeled them on a poster board. But one of my friends had made all the items out of clay. By showing something different from the rest of the class, she demonstrated her imagination and unique idea. She did not just go for the basic and surface level representation, but deeply thought and chose a divergent way of displaying her work.  

This TED Talk opened up my mind to new ideas: education is not about grades or scores but about creativity. I am now ready to figure out what creativity is all about.



The writer is a 9th grade student at International School in Bellevue, Washington State. Write to Grace27sw.oh@gmail.com.

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