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Saphera Peters: The Reason Why School is Limiting Your Creativity

DISCLAIMER: These opinions are strictly my own and NOT meant to offend anyone. This is an article based on my personal opinion from experiences I have had.

Just the other day, I was sitting down having a coffee with a friend while catching up on assignments. We ended up getting side tracked, and our conversation led to our schooling system, and how they go about educating students. We talked for hours, and came to the realization that institutions only give us room for answers that our teachers deem as correct. You may (or may not) be taken aback by how blunt I am being so soon into this article, but I have a lot to say, so just hear me out.

I remember being in grade 12 advanced functions and having a tutor because I struggled with math. My tutor taught me how to solve a specific problem we were learning, but in a different way than we learned in class, still resulting in the same answer. I brought this method to class during a test, only to be slapped in the face with a giant red “X” on my page. My teacher would not accept my answer, although it was correct, simply because I did not use his method!!!! UNBELIEVABLE. I understand this exact situation may not be relatable, but I’m sure you understand where I’m going with this. Students tend to shy away in classrooms in fear of not having the same answer that the teacher is thinking about. This is one of the many reasons that more than half of the class does not raise their hands to participate. It’s the embarrassment of HEARING your teacher tell you “Nope… anyone else?” in front of your classmates. I feel as though this limits the learning ability of students. You won’t absorb as much if you are not engaged. Limited participation = limited learning.

I started thinking about this on a design scale. Critiques everywhere dictate what’s “beautiful” or not. I am in a business / design program, where we are taught about the aspects of design and how to make a poster look aesthetically pleasing or what shots to use in a film to portray a certain feeling. I understand that these rules are there for a reason because they indeed do achieve what they claim to, but what I am saying is, why is that if I go against these rules my poster is ugly? Or if my shots don’t fulfill a certain angle, they are deemed as incorrect? Who decided that a tilted shot declares uncertainty but an extreme close up doesn’t?  Art is art, and the beauty is in the eye of the beholder, not strictly the people who mark assignments. There is no way that every single person on this world thinks the Mona Lisa is beautiful. I truly believe that everyone see’s things differently, so why should we limit our creativity because we are being taught only ONE way is correct. In defence of our academic institutions, schools are not purposely doing this… looking on a larger scale, this mindset comes from the media, society, even artists themselves. A famous artist can paint a blue line on a canvas, worth $1000, yet I create a similar piece and it’s worth 50% on an assignment because I “did not put thought into it.” Why is this?

I understand I am bringing all these issues to the surface, and you are probably wondering, “Okay, so how do we fix it?” Well, I do not have all the answers as disappointing as that is. Although, I do have an idea that can possibly start the road to a solution in the long run. Starting with the schooling system, I feel like students should be able to create something that they consider “art” and attach some sort of explanation behind the work. After teachers read the explanation, then and only then, should they mark the assignment. Some classes have already implemented this into their syllabus. For example, I am taking an online photo-shop course, where you must attach an “Artist Statement” for every piece you submit. This allows me to be express my individual creativity, and then explain my ideation and thoughts behind the piece, in order to receive proper grading. If more design classes implemented this, students work will not only flourish, but their creativity will grow along with it.

I wish to leave this open ended so that I can get you thinking about it. Although I am arguing one side right now, I do not wish to make anyone feel like I am forcing my opinion on you… this is my opinion and I would love to hear yours… how do you think the schooling system can better implement grading creativity?


Saphera Peters, GBDA '20

My name’s Saphera (Saph) and I’m a photographer and videographer studying Global Business and Digital Arts at the University of Waterloo. I am passionate about creating through these mediums because it allows me to capture a single moment in time and let it live forever. Being able to show people my perspective on life is a feeling like no other, which is why I like expressing myself through my photos and video. Not only do I love to create, but I am extremely passionate about travelling as well. I believe that travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. I also believe that travel enables the human mind to learn more than sitting in a classroom ever will, which is why I plan on taking time to travel once I gradate. I hope to use my skills to help people see things in a different light, as I often do. I find myself to be a person who goes with the flow of life instead of worrying about things that cannot be changed, or are too far in the future. In saying this, I wish to let my content show this to people, so they too can take the time to enjoy life around them.


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