There are those who believe that within the walls of schools we teach creativity out of children. Sir Ken Robinson musses about this very possibility in his February 2006 TED Talk. To quote one review, “If you have not yet seen Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk, please stop whatever you’re doing and watch it now.” I watch this video every so often in order to revitalize my teacher-spirit. It’s one of the few I’ve bothered to download to my computer.
Sir Ken notes three themes that pervaded the 2006 TED Talks. The first is the range and variety of creativity displayed by people. The second is that nobody really knows what the future is going to be like, even though our schools are teaching to the future. And the third is the marvel of children’s capacities for innovation. He continues,
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.
As Robinson sees it, the problem is we “educate people out of their creative capacities”.
This isn’t just an issue in education. As part of Stanford University’s Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Speaker Series, Robert I. Sutton tries to define creativity and discusses its importance in business. In particular, he talks about
the importance of being able to fail in order to create, and in order for that to happen the process of creativity necessitates stepping outside the traditional boundaries of following the rules.
The question I grapple with is how to promote creativity, both in schools but also for people who have moved beyond the realm of formal education, and I am not the only one grappling. For instance, there are college courses devoted to The Psychology of Creativity, such as the one at California State University, Northridge, and Creativity: find it, promote it is part of the National Curriculum in Action site, sponsored by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority in London, England.
I am looking forward to this Fall’s Learning & the Brain conference with the expectation of seeing how current brain research chimes in on the issue of creativity.