Schools are killing artistic creativity in children; it is argued that secondary education dwindles imagination and creativity. Picasso reflects how ‘every child is an artist [but] the problem is how to remain an artist [as they] grow up’ which leaves us to wonder, how have we lost this vessel of expressionism?

With the school’s agenda evolving and diluting the importance of artistic pursuits and elevating the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), creative individuals have lost their space as visionaries in expressing their style of art.  Their career paths have been effectively downgraded by the very institutions that should be aspiring for greatness in all fields of study, not just STEM. Amongst this, the idea of mistakes being important is drifting to where students are expected to be faultless. Mistakes are now viewed as the worst thing imaginable, and perfection is the aspiration.  Instead of learning from one’s mistakes students are now consuming vast information and losing their passion and resilience. This is emphasised by Ken Robinson as he states, 'If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original'. This is in direct support of the ‘growth mindset’ principle of learning from your mistakes and pushing the boundaries to grow as a person in all aspects of life. 

Interviewing another pupil, I asked why imagination is discouraged and she stated that nowadays school’s only mission is to raise statistics in grades, emphasising how pupils’ individuality and creative spirit are compressed, with their sense of purpose, slowly eroding. This isn’t specifically a school issue, but it is most certainly a societal one. We are losing our respect for those artistic individuals who bring a different perspective to life, the thinking out of the box metaphor. Instead, we seem to be a society that is based on materialism, over-consumerism, and rigid and extreme ideologies. Art soothes the soul, provides passion, gives love and grief to peoples’ lives and enables individuals to connect from different cultures, religions and eras irrespective of language. 

Another student expressed that it is the constant testing, analysing and pressure that breaks down a child’s creativity and these exams stifle expressionism. What role will art play in our future if any?

Nevertheless, schools are not the only protagonists when it comes to squashing children’s talent; they reflect society and the culture of the time. There is a declining interest in the beauty of the Arts. Looking to the future creativity and imagination are threatened by AI weaving and permeating into our artistic pursuits. We must not neglect our culture and passion for the Arts if we are to keep humanity alive. 

If we abolish the subject hierarchy, intertwine creativity into STEM subjects, celebrate cultures and embrace our mistakes, we have a chance of reviving hope for these aspiring artists. As the Japanese illustrate ‘wabi-sabi (侘寂)’ - the acceptance of mistakes and beauty of the "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".