Speaking at a TED Talks event, Sir Ken Robinson discussed his expectation that public education systems actually hinder (rather than promote) creativity.
He discusses a conversation he had with Gillian Lynne.
“She’s a choreographer and everybody knows her work. She did Cats and Phantom of the Opera, she’s wonderful…. I said, ‘How did you get to be a dancer?’ She said it was interesting. When she was at the school she was really hopeless. And the school in the thirties wrote to her parents, said ‘We think Gillian has a learning disorder.’ She couldn’t concentrate, she was fidgeting. I think now they would say she had ADHD, wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point so it wasn’t an available condition. You know people weren’t aware that they could have that.
Anyway she went to see this specialist. This oak paneled room and she was there with her mother and she was led and sat on this chair at the end and she sat on her hands for twenty minutes while this man talked to her mother about tall the problems Gillian was having at school… In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, ‘Gillian I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me, I need to speak to her privately.’ He said, ‘Wait here, we’ll be back – we won’t be very long.’ And they went and left her. But as they went out the room he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room he said to her mother, ‘Just stand and watch her.’ The minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes. And he turned to her mother and he said, ‘Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.'”
The talk is available freely from iTunes (Audio).