Although the American educational system offers thousands of public schools, over 7 million students a year are choosing private education. While many parents are disheartened with public schools’ inadequate curriculum and facilities, they also choose private education for the extra academic opportunities and possibilities. Parents are also aware of a concerted effort to undermine family values, discourage creativity and criticize independent thinking. Instead of nurturing future leaders, our educational system is fostering mindless complacency. Most schools today are academically deplorable, with “dumbed-down” curricula and socialist ideology. Superintendents and scholars agree that our schools are long overdue for a massive overhaul. The need for private education is growing faster than schools can keep pace with. Even the most prestigious academies are limited by their own outdated methodology, strategic scope and confining location. Meanwhile, parents are in search of cultural enrichment and educational opportunities for their children: something engaging, enlightening and inspirational.
You’re best thinking has gotten you this far ― Andy Andrews
Educator Roger Schank said, “I am horrified by what schools are doing to children. From elementary to college, educational systems drive the love of learning out of kids . . . They produce students who seem smart because they receive top grades and honors but actually are in learning’s neutral gear. Some grow up and never find their true calling. While they may become adept at working hard and memorizing facts, they never develop a passion for a subject or follow their own idiosyncratic interest in a topic. Just as alarming, these top students deny themselves the pleasure of play and don’t know how to have fun with their schoolwork.” Coloring Outside the Lines.
American Creativity Scores Declining
After analyzing 300,000 Torrance results of children and adults, researcher Kyung Hee Kim discovered creativity scores have been steadily dropping, just like IQ scores, since 1990. The scores of younger children in America, from kindergarten through sixth grade, show the most serious decline. Kim states, “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant.” While the potential consequences are sweeping, the critical necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed: Children who offered more creative ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, doctors, college presidents, authors, diplomats, and software developers.
George Land conducted a research study to test the creativity of 1,600 children ranging from ages three-to-five, who were enrolled in a Head Start program. The assessment worked so well that he re-tested the same children at age 10 and again at age 15, with the results published in his book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today. The proportion of people who scored at the creative Genius Level:
- Amongst 5-year old’s: 98%
- Amongst 10-year old’s: 30%
- Amongst 15-year old’s: 12%
- Same test given to 280,000 adults (average age of 31): 2%
An IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. According to the World Economic Forum Report (2015), the top three skills by 2020 will be complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. An Adobe Survey based on Creativity and Education revealed that 85% of professionals agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career, and 82% of professionals wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. He found that the correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ. Hence, creativity is far more important than IQ.
Ironically, Alfred Binet, one of the creators of the IQ test, intended the assessment to serve precisely the opposite function. He originally designed it exclusively to identify children with special needs, so they could get appropriate forms of schooling. He never intended it to identify degrees of intelligence or mental worth. Binet noted that the scale he created does not permit the measure of intelligence, because intellectual qualities are not superposable, and therefore cannot be measured as linear surfaces are measured. Nor did he ever intend it to suggest that a person could not become more intelligent over time.
America’s Educational Trends
- After World War II, the United States had the #1 high school graduation rate in the world. Today, we have dropped to #22 among the top 27 industrialized nations.
- The triennial 2015 OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report ranked the United States 17th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 20th for science, and 27th for mathematics.
- In 2015, only 14% of college professors reported that high schools were adequately preparing students for college; only 29% of employers said schools were adequately preparing students for work.
- Nearly 44% of high school dropouts under the age of 24 are jobless, and the unemployment rate of high school dropouts older than 25 is more than three times that of college graduates (United States Department of Labor).
- In 2012, 39% of young Americans were expected to graduate from college. U.S. college graduation rates rank 19th out of 28 countries studies by the OECD.
- 67% of college professors report that what is taught in high school does not prepare students for college (Alliance for Excellent Education).
It is our belief that all children have unique and creative talents, but unfortunately their gifts are often dismissed, squandered, or simply underutilized because these attributes are not recognized or nurtured. Our schools stigmatize mistakes, criticize individualism and censure independent thinking. Creativity is now deemed a disruption in the classroom.
However, everyone thinks and learns differently. “We know three things about intelligence. One, it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, and we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms; we think in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity, which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value, often comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.” Do Schools Kill Creativity? Sir Ken Robinson, TED Talk, February 2006.
Our entire educational system is predicated on a questionable hierarchy that places conformity above creativity, and the consequences are that many talented, brilliant and imaginative students never discover their gifts and therefore fail to realize their true potential. To prepare students for the future global challenges, education and literature must help children achieve their full potential. For children to be successful in the classroom and beyond, they must learn the skills that foster creativity, independence, leadership and critical thinking.
Devonfield Academy will solve these problems and incorporate the best aspects of private education into a single school.
Devonfield Academy will represent the pinnacle of private education for boys and girls from grades 9 through 12. With advanced research and curriculum from top programs and schools worldwide, Devonfield will establish an academy with the finest facilities, devoted educators and hands-on experience from companies located on campus. Situated in the Midwest, Devonfield will offer an endless array of resources, academic and cultural opportunities, and world travel to integrate what students have learned. When completed, Devonfield will exemplify the most proficient private prep school in the nation.
Devonfield Academy is a comprehensive balance of old-world tradition, academic scholarship and interactive experiences embodied in one educational institution. We believe that your creativity, imagination and intellect are your most valuable resources. We promote the freedom to exceed beyond one’s own expectations; to dream dreams that become reality; to reach unobtainable goals; and to advance intellectually as well as externally. At Devonfield you’ll seek solutions to enduring questions, give expression to your ideas and launch your own projects. Devonfield’s rigorous programs and exhilarating environment are partly students’ own creation; all grades, from freshmen to seniors will be responsible for shaping their school. Students will embrace the independence to think, freedom to write and confidence to speak with distinction. Graduates will impact and influence the world by embracing the obligations of leadership, citizenship and community involvement.
In the current educational market, there is a desperate need for good education. With more students attending private schools than in previous decades, and current facilities understaffed and overcrowded, Devonfield will offer a private education unsurpassed by any school or institution. Devonfield intends to aim at a broad range of students from not only the United States but around the world. Their cultural background, academic profile and home environment will be important in creating each entering class. Unlike most top prep schools, Devonfield intends to recruit more students without financial resources or even high academic rankings. The goal is to enroll a large percentage of candidates who show a great potential for learning, a highly creative aptitude and the need for an opportunity like Devonfield. This diverse array of students will create a unique educational environment at Devonfield. Along with specialized programs and academic tutors, our many opportunities will tap into each student’s ability, genius and potential for greatness.
Devonfield Academy will be modeled after a European town. Authenticity is essential in representing the different types of architecture from throughout Europe. The church and library will be located in the center; the academic facilities will encircle these buildings, with the dormitories on one side, and teachers’ homes and cottages on the other. The sports structures and playing fields will be situated on the outside perimeters, along with an organic farm, an airport and training facility, an equestrian center, a performing arts theater, production studio, architectural firm, publishing house and many other prominent companies. All these corporations are open to students, with at least one required year at three facilities. Whether students are working on a current feature film, designing a new software program or obtaining their pilot’s license, they will receive mentoring, practical knowledge and hands-on experience. They may choose to stay with a company before going on to college or return to one after graduating. When completed, Devonfield will exemplify the most proficient private prep school in the nation.
Each professor will have an exemplary background and a passion for teaching: a combination of academics, creativity, entrepreneurship and practical knowledge. The educators will be selected from around the world: Russian history will be taught by someone from Russia’s top institutes; English classics will be taught by a professor from either Oxford or Cambridge. This is not to say that every academic position will be filled by a professor from such a background, but the goal is to add the cultural flavor and authenticity these teachers could bring to the subject. The instructors will be provided with their own home or cottage on Devonfield’s campus, which allows a cultural and educational environment beyond the class room. There will be a constant array of lectures and seminars throughout the year from top scholars, writers, artists and global leaders.
Devonfield offers an encouraging and exciting environment with limitless opportunities. The curriculum incorporates many styles, and each program is individually tailored for the student. 1) The academics will be just as competitive and demanding as other top schools, but when a student is above his or her level, he or she will progress onto the next level. Private tutors and mentors are also provided for students to help them surpass their current ability. 2) The learning will incorporate as much practical and hands-on experience as is taught in each class, including numerous trips around the nation and abroad. By taking a tour of the English Lake District while reading about the Romantics or spending a few weeks in New England, Washington DC and Virginia while studying American history, students will breathe and taste the world about which they are learning. 3) Whatever a student’s interest, he or she will have the opportunity to pursue it at one of many corporations and institutions located on campus. Starting freshman year, students will work at top companies, learning practical knowledge and gaining real-life experiences. 4) There will be many extracurricular activities, such as art appreciation, classical music, fencing, etiquette classes, martial arts, horse riding and other subjects intended to give students a classical education. Regardless of heritage or background, Devonfield is committed to establishing a new generation of students for the changing world. These scholars will personify a balance of refinement, character and wisdom that will allow them to lead fulfilling, successful lives.
Below is one of the best presentations on Education and Creativity by author and educator Sir Ken Robinson.