Thursday, May 24, 2012

Does Education Stifle Creativity?

I was having a conversation with Jerry Fahri last week over his thoughts about how bureaucracy may be stifling innovation. As it relates to the profession of pharmacy, I can understand his reasoning, and it makes sense - at least to me.

Having graduated from a COP that I felt provided a stifling and restrictive environment, I find that this videoed speech from the perspective of Woz does a good job of explaining how the higher-education system could be contributing to that lack of creativity.


  1. I guess I should explain why I think Woz makes a great point about a repressive educational environment stifling creativity.

    When I was in pharmacy school, it was an extremely competitive environment, one in which you were expected to know the answer even before the question was asked. It was extremely serious, in such a way that any attempts at levity were considered disrespectful, anti-educational, and disruptive.

    If you didn't know the answer to a question when asked, you were made to feel foolish and incompetent by both the instructor and your classmates. Instead of pointing out where students erred and providing a Socratic environment, it was as if speaking up and learning through conversation was frowned upon.

    But, I'm like Woz. I wanted to have fun, openly discuss whatever topic we were focusing on, to ask questions without fear of retribution, and to learn from my mistakes without feeling as though I was undeserving of being a pharmacy student.

    I felt that school was the exact place where we shouldn't feel foolish about asking questions or of being wrong. To me, that's supposedly the whole reason why we were there.. to learn. So, I made an effort to ask questions and participate.

    Although there were a few students, and teachers, who appreciated my attempts at creating a participatory environment, it was a constant hardship having to deal with the forces continually trying to shut me up.

    I was told "Who do you think you are? You're a student, nothing more". You do whatever we say and make sure you know your place.

    They just couldn't see that what I was doing would make us better pharmacists and make the process of our education much more enjoyable. To me, our goal was to learn, not be right all of the time, or to "one-up' other students.

    Unfortunately, I was often insulted by both teachers and students alike for speaking up, and it became repressive to me. There were many times where I came to class, shut my mouth, refused to participate, and disappeared as quickly as I could after class.

    So eventually, I did what ever was necessary to graduate, did whatever they required, moved on, and still continue to regret the four years I spent earning my PharmD.

  2. How we educate individuals who go into the working environment prompts various habits that make it harder to produce truly creative novel thoughts. Truth be told, the more fruitful individuals are in school, the more that they may have created habits that make them less creative.