Editorial 16.08.2016 - Creativity or Uniformity

Since education began there has always been much debate about what children need to learn and how they should be taught to learn.
It is quite clear that the current government is looking more at conformity/uniformity rather than creativity and diversity. The new national curriculum and assessment initiatives are an example of this as is the constant push towards trying to improve our position in the PISA rankings by promoting the use of things like Singapore maths.
Within all of this, however, Asian countries, including China, have been coming to the UK to find out how we manage to create a better balance between uniformity and creativity which leads to a wide range of talents distributed across our adult population. Our primary school education has, for a long-time, been held in high esteem and is something that should be replicated widely.
The article below provides an interesting take on this whole issue.
We would be interested to know your views on this whole debate. If you find the time to respond please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Editorial Aug2016 YongZhaoProfessor Yong Zhao, from the University of Oregon in the US told TES: “You’re maybe the best drinker but you’ve got to think, Is it good for you and does it matter?”
He went on to say: “Countries should ‘ignore’ the world’s most influential education rankings because they fail to measure what matters, an expert on the impact of globalisation on education has claimed.
The idea of nations competing to reach the top of the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) league tables makes as much sense as university students competing to see who can drink the most beer… You’re maybe the best drinker but you’ve got to think, ‘Is it good for you and does it matter?’”
According to Professor Zhao, Pisa – which provides a snapshot comparison of how well 15-year-olds in different countries perform in reading, maths and science – homogenises education systems.
“We need creativity, not uniformity”
While Asian countries tend to do well according to these measures, he insisted that a homogeneous workforce was not what was required for a successful future.
Instead, he said, countries needed “creative, entrepreneurial talents, able to create value for others”.
“We should ignore Pisa entirely. I don’t think it is of any value. If you look at the so-called high-scoring areas, like Shanghai and all the East Asian countries, they are trying to get away from what has made them high on Pisa [rankings].”
The academic, who was educated in China, said that the country’s education system was an effective machine that could instil what the government wanted students to learn, but it did not nurture creativity. The result is that China has a population with similar skills on a narrow spectrum, he claimed.