Here’s a little experiment. Search for the word “Innovation” on Businessweek. You’ll get 4,708 results. Now Search for the word “Creativity”. You’ll get back 1,173 results. Innovation has had a good run in the past few years. But it’s looking like creativity is becoming a hot topic in both creative and non creative forums.
If you have 20 minutes to spare, I highly recommend watching this video of Sir Ken Robinson:
“Sir Ken Robinson is senior advisor to the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, and an influential advocate for the importance of creativity in education. He makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for overhauling our education system. (Recorded February, 2006 in Monterey, CA.)”
What I find most compelling about this little gem is how halfway into his monologue, he taps into some extremely profound thoughts that all of us can relate to—not just us creative types.
He describes us when we were children. Our vivid imaginations and curiosity. Our inclination to take risk and not fear mistakes. Then he makes the case for how education has the tendency to domesticate our creative urges (my interpretation here). He uses the example of the individual with “ADD” who can’t sit still. Maybe that person was designed to be a dancer? He makes some very colorful jokes about academics “living in their heads” while seeing their bodies as merely vehicles to “transport their heads”.
It’s a really interesting and thought provoking talk. I think Sir Ken Robinson is asking a bigger question here:
Are we in danger of educating ourselves out of creativity?
Sure, places of academia are also places of great thought exchange and ideas—but what if everyone has the same thoughts and ideas? Or more importantly, do existing educational programs foster creative thinking?
I’ll make this personal. Growing up and going through the public school system—I was always a little different. Maybe not on the outside—but within. I had teachers who thought I was “lazy” and I can even remember my Grandmother trying to make me use my right hand instead of my left. I’ve always had a vivid imagination and saw things a little differently. And I can remember feeling pressure to do what everyone else did.
Though I received a decent education, what most of my teachers prized was good behavior and following rules. What does this do for creativity?
It wasn’t until D-school that I “found myself”. An environment that encouraged and challenged creativity and the fruits of it. Pratt’s mantra still rings true in my soul:
“Be True To Your Work and Your Work Will Be True To You”.
Back to Sir Ken. At the end of his monologue he leaves us with several key thoughts:
That we have an obligation to use the “gift of human imagination” wisely, and a responsibility to the “education of the whole being” for our children. Not just their heads.
In my estimation—creativity is being re-defined, re-evaluated and re-prioritized as a critical component of the human condition. And I think that’s a good thing for all of us.