Young children are excellent problem solvers and naturally creative individuals. They’re typically not afraid of failure and intuitively engage in the kinds of divergent thinking that people who value innovation tend to prize. Unfortunately, by the time they’ve made it through second grade, that creativity and ability to immediately grasp ideas and concepts in an out-of-the-box kind of way diminishes rapidly. This is such a common phenomenon that we tend to view this early creativity as something that kids naturally grow out of in a sort of biological and hardwired kind of way. After all, kids lose their baby teeth and their childish inquisitiveness at about the same time right?

How It Can Happen

Wrong. There is nothing innately biological about losing early creative impulses. It comes from an education model that reinforces over and over the concept that for every problem there is one “right” answer. That “non-divergent” thinking is the underlying bedrock that our education system has unwittingly promoted. Our education system has resulted in a weird phenomenon. We completely crush kids’ creativity in the first few years of primary school and continue to suppress it through high school. Then, when they get to college, we try to get them to be creative thinkers again. The latter is often unsuccessful, to the chagrin of English professors everywhere. It’s not altogether unsurprising that kids can’t grasp the notion of metaphors and figurative language. It doesn’t fit the “one right answer” rule.

How To Prevent It

It has been fairly common for people to look down on homeschooling or at least view it as a less favorable alternative to traditional public education. And it is true that home schooling requires much more parental involvement and discipline than just sending your kids off to public school. But being able to carefully nurture their creative instincts and uniqueness as individuals can make homeschooling your children well worth it. For parents who have been hesitant to homeschool, the rise in online curriculum and online training options makes homeschooling less intimidating than it once was.

Why It Matters

The current educational system is a relic from our colonial past. An education system that served the Industrial Revolution well is the system we still have for a post-industrial social and business landscape. The efforts to improve the current education system solely through technological innovation—with little effort to change underlying structural issues—looks less than promising. If you have young children who are creative powerhouses and you’d like to see them stay that way, the idea of completely bypassing public education in favor of homeschooling and self-learning models shouldn’t be viewed as a negative alternative.

It’s hard to predict what the future of education will look like. Technological innovation may not be able to save public education without significant structural overhaul. But what technological innovation may do—coupled with the increase in online educational offerings—is provide a serious educational alternative to a creativity-squashing system.