Author, educator, and speaker Sir Ken Robinson writes and speaks about the dire need for creativity to be a crucial element of public education lest we face a future far bleaker than our present. The problem, though, as he articulates so well, is that public education is in the business of educating us out of our creativity. The issue is not learning to be creative as we grow, but rather staying that way despite the influence and impact of schooling. We don’t grow into creativity in other words; we grow out of it under the influence of public education. Here he is speaking at the Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) conference.

Robinson points out that public education across the world privileges math, science, and languages and invariably places the humanities and the arts at the bottom of the hierarchy (with performing arts at the very bottom) because it does not serve the pragmatic need of industrialized economies. The whole purpose of public schooling is to progressively educate kids from the neck up and slightly to one side, he says. Steering children benignly away from art, music or other things they’ll “never make a living doing” has profound consequences today according to Robinson. In a world in desperate need of creative solutions to some of the most pressing problems ever faced, creativity must be encouraged, cultivated, and taught.

Does school educate us out of our creative capacities?

Robinson uses a particularly apt analogy when he speaks of our education systems mining our minds the way we have strip-mined the earth–for a particular commodity. We must reconceptualize our view of education to one that considers the whole child, her full humanity, and embraces all that she is capable of–even if it does mean she’ll drive a Honda Civic instead of Mercedes S-Class. Our future depends on it.