I was watching a TED talk yesterday given by Sir Ken Robinson in 2006. Usually, I am unable to listen to a speaker for longer than 10 minutes, since my mind likes to wander and I get bored very easily. But I was riveted by this talk. Sir Ken Robinson was such a confident and hilarious speaker. Nothing quite resonates with me like humour. And given that the entire audience was laughing, yet listening, I know they were spellbound too.
The talk was about how the education system of today focuses solely on educating children, and urging them to excel, but only in certain areas. Intelligence is narrowly defined by book smarts. When a child doesn’t display conventional intelligence, they are often labeled with a learning disability, or some ‘problem’. The talk highlights the neglect that other wonderful talents experience, and how the neglect of these talents and the push towards a defined intelligence, ultimately, kills creativity.
In particular, one line reverberated with me: “If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original”. He said that kids are not worried about being wrong…if they don’t know something, they will at least take a stab at it. Think back to your own childhood…I know I certainly was never scared about being wrong. Nowadays, the very thought of it sometimes cripples me.
While my parents certainly strenously emphasized getting good grades, I was also very fortunate that they allowed me to explore and cultivate other talents. Our house was always full of music, I had mountains of books to read, and they taught me about the beauty of art. My sister, in fact, is incredible at drawing. These will certainly things I’ll have to think about when I have kids (thankfully, many years down the line).
I don't think the cultivation of creativity simply ends with childhood though. I believe it's something we can continue to work on throughout our lifetime, maybe just through small actions. Take a dance class you otherwise wouldn't, pick up a non-fiction book (or any book for that matter), watch a play, take a stroll through the park. There's no set way of expanding your creativity, but I do believe there are set ways of killing it. I've certainly been trying to step out of my box this past month, and so far, I'm loving it!
Here's the link to the talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html