Should Schools Teach Goal Setting and Creativity?

As reported at, according to a recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll, more than three out of four adults think schools should teach creativity and goal setting.

You probably agree. Sounds like a great idea, right? High School Classroom

Wrong. The idea stinks.

The thing is, schools should already be teaching creativity and goal setting. If they’re not, it’s not the teacher’s fault, nor is it the school’s fault. It’s your fault. You and our government have shaped out schools according to an image of what a school should be – a place where every student will learn exactly the same thing and learn it about as well as everyone else. That’s not simply foolish, it’s impossible. You know as well as I do that there are subjects you are not interested in. Notice, I did not say ‘you are not good at.’ If a student is not interested in something he or she is not going to learn it as well as other student’s who are interested in it.

Goal setting should not need to be a separate course or series of lessons. They should simply be a part of the day-to-day school experience. For that to happen it helps if the parents are also involved in the child’s school experience.

While teaching goal planning is an honorable idea (and I’m assuming it would be taught through specific lesson plans), it should not be necessary. I learned goal setting by being given a variety of assignments. Some of them needed to be completed that night, others needed to be completed in the future. Those that needed to be finished in a few days were easy. I worked on them each day till they were finished. Those that needed to be finished in a month were a bit more difficult, but I learned how to plan what needed to be finished and to set up a schedule for finishing it. I know I learned some of these techniques from my teachers, others I learned from my parents. I remember my mother saying, “you have a book report due next week. What are you reading?”

That’s one of the reasons I find the desire to have the schools teach goal planning  is actually just a cop-out by today’s parents. It seems to me that after a long day at work it’s easier to sit the kids down in front of the TV or the computer or the game console and leave them alone rather than spend some time working with them, communicating with them, teaching them such things as goal setting.

As far as teaching creativity is concerned, students who study creative writing or art are learning how to be creative. Students who take part in after school activities are often learning creativity. However, there is a major problem in our school system that stifles creativity. Tests. Not just the day-to-day tests that help a teacher gauge whether the students are learning what is being taught, but the Administrative and governmental tests that are used to determine if the school is meeting the current standards expected of schools by the various governing bodies that fund the schools.

That might not be a problem if those tests were used as a guideline rather than a financial and budgetary tool. In essence it is not an educational tool, but becomes one because the teachers and school administrators are forced to design their curriculum to give the school the greatest opportunity to grade high overall and receive the funding needed to pay for the curriculum in the first place. In other words the teachers hands are often tied. They are not being allowed as much opportunity to teach to the kids as they are being given the directive to teach to the tests. When that happens the freedom a teacher needs in order to help a child be creative and allow a child to be creative is stifled because it has little place in a curriculum that is designed to meet standards rather than to educate children.

Am I way off base? You tell me.


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