Prasil Koirala

Student , Rato Bangala School

This conversation is closed.

Schools do not kill creativity

I didn't like the thesis in this talk by Sir Robinson. In my opinion, creativity develops on the soil of knowledge. Knowledge is the food that we get in schools. Food should be given in an organized manner and in the order of importance. And comparing dance class with mathematics, in my view, was completely rubbish. I wonder if I could ever get to use a computer if people of history spent their time dancing away.

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    May 15 2012: Hi Prasil,
    I strongly (and amicably) disagree with you.
    It is very true what you say, you can not create if you don't have knowledge. But knowledge doesn't beget creativity.
    Billions of people went to school and college DO have knowledge.
    BUT are they creative...???? NO!
    It really depends on the definition of being "creative".
    I like the definition of creative by Ken Robinson: something original that has VALUE (at a given time).
    What he meant by comparing dance classes with math classes: it is a CALLING.
    Some kids do well in maths, some don't. Are the kids who don't NOT creative? NO, it is all about finding your CALLING.
    Some kids will never do well in calculus, but they will be gifted for other subjects (such as dance). And, given the opportunity (which is rare!) they will THRIVE in doing what they were meant to do.
    What Ken Robinson basically says is the following: A kid, from 6-year old to 18 year-old (at least, unless he or she goes to college) is trained NOT to fail, which is the exactly OPPOSITE of "trying". Because innovation is not a 1 try/1hit kind of thing, it is a 1000 tries/1 hit.
    Graham Bell wanted to create a device so that his deaf son could hear when people spoke. Instead, he created the telephone.
    Pfizer wanted to create a medicine for the people with heart problems. Instead, they created the VIagra.
    3M create the Post-It because of a glue mistake.
    See...Trying (and having the guts to do so) begets innovation. They were prepared to be wrong.
    While the school system as we know it "teaches" us to:
    - follow rules
    - not to FAIL (if you fail, you are punished!)
    The school system doesn't encourage us to TRY. And "try" is the exact opposite of "follow-not-to-fail".
    What Ken Robinson says it that the schools do not allow children who do not fit in the current educational mould to find their calling. And we need these callings to answer tomorrow's HUGE challenges
    Hope this helps :-)
  • May 17 2012: I respectfully, but totally, disagree. I am an Art teacher in a secondary school, so therefore I have a certain bias. But that given, I like to encourage as many different forms of thought in my classes as I can. Some students come in with an attitude that they are not creative or capable of creating art, yet think of themselves as maths savy. The fact is, there is much maths in creating art. And I would argue that being able to think beyond the norm or the acepted has created some of the greatest scientific and mathematical breakthroughs of history. Who are you to give an "order of importance" to knowledge anyhow? How are you basing that order? On material gain? Lives saved? Dance, music, drama and the visual arts give as much to people as anything. They teach a certain kind of thinking, a joy... they touch on things that cannot be otherwise described. The joy that dance brings into some peoples lives is worth more to them then any math skill they possess.
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    May 17 2012: Prasil,

    Your language demonstrates a desire to force others to comply to your world view.
    This is common amongst the young who have not enough experience to reveal the ultimate negative outcomes of force.
    I simply ask you to put aside your aggresion for a moment and consider more observation to expand your world view.
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    May 16 2012: Hi Prasil,

    IMO, you mix up things. Ken Robinson did not say dance can replace mathematics, nor he compared them. He just gave an example showing how a child can fail in studies, suppose mathematics, but still can be very successful in completely different other matters, suppose dance. What he meant so show that schools are very limited in the scope of their teachings. They do not encompass all the aspects of life, nor even all the possible knowledge & talents a human being can possess. Schools do not and cannot cope with all the human talents and abilities. And this is why, it is wrong to expect from ALL the children to succeed in the limited scope of faculties of knowledge which schools try to convey to them, because that limited scope might not include those faculties in which some children might possess inborn talents. And also it is wrong to label those who do not succeed in schools’ the limited scope , as failures.
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    May 16 2012: Ken is right in saying that schools kill creativity,actually they murder it. School teaching system is outdated. For creativity to flourish in schools you need teachers who could sow the seeds of it or recognize & reward creative people. Its no wonder that school dropouts tend to achieve a lot more than those who live there. Teachers are partly educated, lowly paid & repeat lectures. I am a teacher myself & have studied at two major university campuses in India believe me i have come across not more than 5 percent teachers who could teach their own subject. A mathematics teacher with some knowledge of music would surely be able to teach better.
    • May 16 2012: i I think creativity can neither be killed nor taught. It is is intrinsic to any human being. But in a different degree.
      If the creativity of an individual seems to be undeveloped to the full degree it means only this individual has another feature developed in full degree.So it is rather important for schools to have teachers with different features unfolded in sufficient measure so that students might discover variety of opportunities.
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    May 12 2012: you have a point there, but we can reconcile it. robinson is not against teaching stuff, but how they do it. as of now, a western school is part discipline, part useless data and part knowledge. just by getting rid of the first two, we could get great improvement.

    i mean, look at the numbers. to be successful in the west, you have to study 15-17 years. this is a huge amount of time, and at the end, you are usually not well equipped to be a useful workforce, you need to study more on your own. this is a horrendous waste of time.
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      May 12 2012: Please, Kristztian, describe for us a classroom with 34 9-year-olds and a teacher who exercises no discipline.
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          May 13 2012: Thanks for the heads-up on that talk. Gads! What a concept! How heartrending to see the enthusiasm of these deprived children. Curiosity and peer pressure are cited as the driving force behind Mr. Mitra's experiments. I must say I fear the consequences of leaving a room full of 10 year-old American students alone unattended. Do you know if the children were given complete access to the internet (porno, etc.)?
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    May 19 2012: I humbly maintain that schools do not kill creativity .
    Original thinking is not something that can be silenced over the years .
    Schools simply direct creativity , not kill it .
    Learning the fundamentals of  math or science or even dance forms, provides the knowledge that a student would need, to be creative with .
  • May 15 2012: The problem is not what we are taught, but the goal we are taught it for. Today, we aim for a numerical grade, for a sentence in our CV, for a recognition ON TOP and not AMONG others. By saying this, I am not excluding competition from our personal growing and development.

    What I believe needs to be done is to change the underlaying reason for educating our minds, which is simply inheriting knowledge from our predecessors and taking it further. Kids need a goal for what they are doing. They need to be interested and capable of developing concepts even if they are wrong.

    It is then! when you can teach them yesterday's knowledge. A little kid doesn't have the mindset to pay attention because he knows it will one day be useful, he is not a university or a PhD student.

    Develop their minds if you want them to innovate. Change must always come from the inside, and our education must be as fluid as possible to allow this
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    May 15 2012: I think we should understand what the creativity is? I believe creativity needs some knowledge. You can be creative but without knowledge you will have hard to time describe it. So creativity without knowledge won't take us far.

    In this regard, schools might be important to get the knowledge. But excepting everything from schools would be wrong. If we need something to blame, our social environment must be one of them.We should question how people approach creative ideas? They see you as insane, lunatic and loon person when you come up with an idea that looks weird to others?

    I believe we teach our kids to accept more knowledge less creativity from schools because creativity is something the students discover instead of excepting it from school and teachers. Knowledge help individuals to make more connections with other neurons and they will be able to evaluate the situation better.

    You cannot just expect students to be creative by letting them go to the forest and live there :)
  • May 14 2012: I would say you missed the thesis of the talk, or rather oversimplified it to a point where it would be wrong.

    The leap is in understanding the "organized" manner in which information is passed on. Sir Robinson was talking about the evolution of systems, the industrialized monopoly of educational organizations. It's not that systematically giving people knowledge is wrong, quite the opposite. But, whenever our schools aren't allowed to compete, or competing notions about how best to deliver information throughout the course of a child's life aren't given the resources to be vetted, we as a species lose out on innovative ways to learn.

    Industrialized education, by definition, won't work equally for everyone learning different things. The problem is the disparity in effective graduation - people becoming experts in fields we need and fields they excel in. There's a kind of fear permeating academia that being environmentally disposed or genetically adept at certain tasks is an evil concept, though it's undoubtedly true. Since we can't reliably predict individual performance, though, we aren't developing innovative ways of teaching individuals - we focus on ubiquitous access to a stagnant system with evolving demands - the disconnect between demands of our graduates and failure of school systems to evolve leaves children further and further behind the needs of the day.
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    May 13 2012: Hi Prasil, I like your topic! I benefitted a lot from school and I thrived when teachers took the time to develop structure and first principles. In a way, that's how some of my creativity was enabled. Like, I am Vietnamese-Canadian, but in High School Italian, I put on fun plays I wrote in full on Italian only after I had solid lessons on grammar and vocabulary.

    But, I also became a teacher and recognized that not all students learn like I did (and probably like you do). I'm not sure what percentage, but many students too quickly stay in a box once you tell them: "this is how it's done; this is the "right" way to do it". Some subjects like math and language syntax cannot escape structure, but certainly so many other subjects need to be taught with open-endedness. Some kids cannot learn sitting in a chair!

    Including Dance in school, literally, or as a figurative idea for engagement of more body parts and senses has been scientifically proven to help learning. So, that's Science supporting "Dance" / different sensory usage for better education in research!
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    May 12 2012: Hi Prasil
    Years ago when I was younger, I have read some where: "creativity means being wrong."
    In your educational system, do they let you to cross the red lines?
    Can you shed light on strict repetitive behaviors? What about the educational assessment system?
    i think, We should adorn those teachers who teach how to think and not merely thoughts…
    Regards
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      May 12 2012: True. Schools should be the place where we learn to think, not think to learn. The purpose behind education is not just learning - but also to make you able to trace your learning. Thanks
  • May 18 2012: Schools, they are only giving you knowledge, they're usually not explaining why, or how to use this information for our brain to think better. I feel like schools now adays are just teaching 1+1=2. The numbers themselves don't mean anything, you need to explain that the reason why that works is because one thing plus one thing equals 2 things. Not just a bunch of numbers and symbols added together. 1 plus 1 may be easy enough for a student to figure out why and apply them to everyday thinking such as 'I have 1 pencil, then I found another one, therefore, I have 2.' but as the levels get higher, when it's no longer 1+1=2, it's going to be harder for them to figure why and the logic behind everything on their own. And later, they are just remembering plain dull information that they can't use improve their ways of thinking.
  • May 17 2012: I hope you've not understood my comment to mean that I don't see foundational knowledge as a precursor to higher forms of creativity. Quite the opposite. Yes, there is an underlying set of prerequisite concepts that one must learn through the tedium of memorization and practice (although that's probably an unkind way of putting it, so please forgive the injection of personal cynicism). My contention is with the all-too-common segregation of subjects both from each other and from their constituent parts.
    Take ballet for example; as you correctly stated, the 'prerequisite' is the muscle memory and kinetic language learnt at the barre. But unlike the teaching of many 'non-artistic' subjects, a dancer is encouraged to explore beyond the rules. Now I'm not saying that a good teacher doesn't inspire his/her students to do the same in other disciplines, but it seems that the trend is toward exclusivity of focus. A Modern Dance or Jazz Dance teacher expects a student to draw from ballet (as does a physics teacher expect their students to draw from mathematics), but the conversation stretches beyond that. A dance student isn't often left wondering whether they're allowed to break the rules of formal technique (so long as they're aware of why they're doing so), but I find this freedom somewhat lacking in traditional education.
    Statistics made sense AFTER calculus, but was taught before it. Organic Chemistry made sense AFTER Bio Chemistry, but again taught before it. I strongly feel that the underlying principles of most, if not all subjects can be better comprehended when paired with a more generous serving of things to come. It's all part of the greater system, so why share it? It's the ignition of interest and exploration that I believe sparks the motivation to understand, and that's really REALLY hard to do when the microscope is so often set to such an exclusively high level of magnification.
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      May 17 2012: I guess its easier to teach science and maths in a boring way and focus too much on test results.
      As to why scientists juggle but don't dance, maybe its our introverted nature. You can learn to juggle alone in your room, not many of us have a room big enough to really dance in :-)
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    • May 16 2012: I've always had an interest in the hobbies and activities that those align themselves with the 'hard' sciences enjoy. I for one am a juggler, although I do not share some of my fellow jugglers' talents for numbers, but I've found that a disproportionate number of jugglers engage in science-heavy professions.
      I'm also a dancer, and I've enjoyed the similarities between juggling and dance for as long as I've been doing both.

      It's the similarity between the two activities that I find most interesting when considering the hierarchy of education. They're both forms of movement, and yet so many more 'scientists' seem to juggle than dance. Could this be the result of perceived acceptability that Sir Robinson touches on?

      It's great to see a living example that can attest to the beneficial crossover between dance and math such as yourself. Keep on movin'.
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        May 16 2012: Many people don't understand the connection between so called academic subjects like maths and science and so called creative subjects like music and dance. In all these subjects it is the facination that the human brain has with patterns that is the motivation. You can teach dance by a rigid rote learning style just as easily. A ballet dancer learns the movements by mindless repetition just like memorising your times tables but the wrote learned basics allow creativity. Science and maths are exactly the same. It's just that the creativity in science and maths tends not to occur on stage. This means it isn't perceived by most people.
        I too am a juggler and a musician and a physics teacher but not a dancer. And I assure you, you do have a talent for numbers as if you don't have the ability to recognise number patterns and multiply and divide in your head you can't dance. How many beats are there in 8 bars of 12/8?
      • May 17 2012: Thank-you, Joshua and Peter, for your kind responses. All points are well taken and thought provoking. Actually, I am not a good dancer but love to dance so some would say I am not so good a crossover.
        You both seem to be much more adept in your crossovers whether they be from juggling to dance to science. Keep on juggling!
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    May 15 2012: From reading the comments below it appears that everyone found a different meaning in Ken's speech. I would just like to add my own thoughts to fray:

    I quite agree that we may never have had computers if everyone way busy "dancing away" but I do not think that obligatory arts is what Ken was advocating. The message that I got from his talk was that we should build on our children's strengths, not seeking to mold them to a preset design. We should be thriving on our differences and schools should be fueling enthusiasm not stifling it. The problem in the western world and especially in Britain is that there has now become a set path through life; we are born, we go to school, we get the grades and go to university. Those who stray from that path or are unable to keep pace are ridiculed and left behind. Unless they have the mentality to forge their own way then they are stuck.
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    May 14 2012: Let's face it - education of any kind is good (when done without malice or harm) - it's why we love TED so much. But I'm a huge beliver in change and continual improvement, and therfore I'm open minded to Sir Ken's commentary. The world is evolving daily and to avoid change in our education arena would be wrong - for everyone involved, most importantly our children. Creativity is critical - I want to applaud those who think and learn differently.
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    May 14 2012: the topic is quite interesting but one thing i would like to say is that "arts has no extremities".. there is no limitation for arts and the knowledge you gain through arts!!
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    May 14 2012: 1) The most creative minds in history were often scientists and mathematicians. Da Vinci, Einstein, Newton, Edison, Hawking etc
    2) Professors are only held in high regard by people outside academia. You only accept a professorship to enable your research if there is no alternative. Career professors are those that have failed to come up with a good research topic.
    3) If you do a bit of research into professional musicians you find many of them have degrees in the most unexpected areas. There are doctors and lawyers and physics teachers and accountants.
    I am a highschool physics teacher who works as a musician at night.for example.
    Ken's lack of science Knowledge is why he doesn't see the creativity required to come up with a new scientific theory.
  • May 14 2012: With all due respect, I can't help but think that you may have drawn an unintended conclusion from Sir Robinson's talk. I certainly agree that math and dance are two very different disciplines (although, as noted by other responses, there's certainly a crossover with the introduction of music), but my interpretation of the message behind this talk was that by categorizing strictly areas of knowledge and pursuit, and then ranking them based on a notion of perceived economic value, young students run the very real risk of being discouraged from discovering and exploring their talents and passions.

    I absolutely agree with your understanding of the relationship between knowledge and creativity, but failing to develop both through explorations/disciplines amenable to each can and does seem to result in the neglect of one or the other (and, as Sir Robinson points out, it's almost always the development of an educational institution's conception of 'knowledge' that comes out on top).
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    May 13 2012: Hi Prasil, I think we need to be careful about separating subjects we consider in 'order of importance' but rather see that together ALL subjects should provide holistic and personalised development to grow tomorrows well-rounded adults.

    I find the comments on this debate interesting (not least your recommended link to the Sugata Mitra film- thanks for that). I have Ken's paradigm on a mural in my office at work! I disagree with you and believe that ALL subjects can be compared for their central learning elements. Learning in schools today should not simply defined by the subject title on the child's timetable. I work at a school where Dance is hugely valued and where our students don't 'dance away' they learn the complexities such as numeracy within rhythm, meaning in movement, narrative and literacy in interpretation. We have two (amongst others) amazing Maths and Dance teachers, they are creative and both see the crossovers of their subjects. They collaborate, spot similarities and so create inspirational experiences for children as a result, many children for whom, Dance (or indeed any art form) is the reason they enjoy school and can be where they get their best grades. Achievement takes many forms. Great schools understand that creativity is everywhere (evident in all subjects where teaching is of high quality) and debating the rank order of subjects is ultimately counter-productive.
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      May 14 2012: Hello Stuart.
      "Creativity is everywhere". Thanks for that awesome thought.
      But still, I believe, giving example of dancing, arts has quite limited amount of knowledge to offer. We can use that knowledge to develop our personality, and to some extent - our Creativity. But Science is vast - and we cannot deny the fact that we advanced throughout the history because we used Science. We are creative because we are Scientific.

      It's just what was in my view, I didn't mean to nitpick Arts and overshadow its wonders.
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        May 14 2012: We are scientific because we are creative. To look for the answer you must first ask the question.
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    May 12 2012: Prasil, you are a courageous individual for criticizing Sir Ken Robinson (He is revered in TED community). There is some truth in what you say, but I believe Robinson would engage you in a lively conversation on some of what you say in your opening paragraph above.
    What I believe will eventually become standard in education will be individual educational plans. Technology will facilitate that happening and we will be off to the races....
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      May 13 2012: Jim: Does this education plan mean an individual will get education one on one?
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      May 13 2012: Well Jim ,
      I too have mixed opinion on the same , its not that a school/university that want to kill create an individual's intellectual ability. It is simply the syllabus prescribed by an education board or an education system that sometimes kill creativity of the student.
      I personally wanted to do Clinical Psychology but I took up a technical analyst role in IT but it was somewhere related to analyzing data instead of human beings and I still love that work. Music too is one of hobbies. So we must be open to the knowledge available all over the globe and not just stick to one area of interest.

      Cheers,
      Bharath
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    May 12 2012: The title is meant to be provocative rather than strictly accurate. Schools can and do enhance creativity and also can stifle it. So can parenting, peer pressure, certain kinds of home responsibilities, needing to work too long and hard to help support a family, perhaps growing older, and so forth. Being exposed to a breadth of materials, experiences, and knowledge enhances creativity, because creativity is combinatorial and associative.
    I think the "take away" from talks about creativity is that the organizations in which we find ourselves can be set up or led so as to enhance creativity or to stifle it. It is fruitful to consider how to set up organizations and how stewards within them should behave if they want people within them to remain disposed to thinking for themselves and using imagination.
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    May 15 2012: Quite untrue , the schools kills creativity ; only using expressions like 'the soil of knowledge' you get nothing interesting to say instead of that Sir Ken did .
  • May 14 2012: I believe in the opposite
  • May 13 2012: good but complicated - there is so much to consider. What level is the school? Who are the
    teachers? Who are the students? Consider aptitude, personalities, and intellignce of everyone.
    We can junp from Jung, Myers-briggs,etc. to IQ tests. In addition, we have the enironment of
    the class tge school or whatever. We now have the suggestion that a major Presidential
    candidate in the US was a bully in school. Where does this lead? Wonderland if we're not careful,
    more student oriented schools if need be, and greater respect for self-learning. Lincoln, Rominujin,
    and George Romnry, Tom Edison, and Tesla might find today's world a problem.
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    May 13 2012: Hi Prasil,

    I am going to focus on your comment, "Food should be given in an organized manner and in the order of importance". I am not sure that food is always given in an organized manner, and I'm not sure everyone has the luxuries of eating a meal in regular intervals. Same as education, when contrasted with your comment about food. The world needs to have enough food to feed everyone before everyone can be educated. The incapacity for everyone to have access to food is causing everyone to pick and choose different paths in their lives. Some paths are easily accessible and others are obscure, but we must all recognize these different paths. These paths must get recognition in order for the individuals' to understand if their path is right for them. Food isn't always eaten in an orderly fashion, like when we get ourselves/others gifts of candy or small meals during long nights studying. Most people don't get the same amount of food, especially in large and low-income families. Education works just the same way. Not everyone can afford to get the same education and if everyone developed more creativity, then education would already have half of its work done. Maybe we should focus on getting food to everyone and make all forms of education be accessible to everyone, then we can forward our complaints about our personal beliefs of a faulty idea. Health usually comes before many other issues, or is my comment a bit overrated?

    ps: Sorry if my passion leaks through the internet as being a bit cold hearted. Not meant to be an attack.

    Thanks for reading my thoughts. Hope to read yours. =)
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    May 12 2012: It is an immensely complex issue. Schools systems are exactly that - systems. Organic ones at that. Technology will be the eventual answer to many of the problems inherent in the US education system today. It is going to be decades before change is complete, but it has begun in small but significant ways with the Obama administration.
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    May 12 2012: Yous is responsible for your own education. The fallacy is anything to the contrary, similar to politics in that they are going to take your money and spend it as they see fit. I don' buy the premise.
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    May 12 2012: Sir Obi Wan Ken Robinson conveniently forgets the true nature of schools - logistically managing large numbers of kids. This is the main force behind his gripe about creativity.

    That and meddling bureaucrats. We would have the perfect school systems if it wasn't for all those meddling bureaucrats..
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      May 12 2012: listen. i can make school curriculum much better using a red pen and a straightedge. and this is the sign of a really sloppy design.