I recently listened to Ken Robinson interviewed by the IMNO (International Mentoring Network Organization). In addition to the audio interview, the site contains a list of the questions that were asked of Sir Ken. Of particular interest to me are the portions of the conversation dealing with imagination.
Sir Ken believes that imagination is the foundation of creativity; it is bringing to mind things that are not in front of you and that are not currently present. Imagination is the “process of having in your consciousness conceptions of things that aren’t present.” Based upon memories, if you can summon up the past, you are then able to conjure up the future.
If that is imagination, then what is creativity? Creativity is “applied imagination” and therefore a practical process. Creativity is “doing something with materials in a medium.” Robinson goes on to note that is it helpful and important to love both working with the tools of the medium and the medium itself.
And then, of course, there are the crucial questions to ask oneself:
- How am I creative?
- How am I intelligent?
- In what ways does my creativity show itself?
“Creativity is nourished by keeping your imagination alive (stimulated).”
Sir Ken goes on to state the importance to him of humor; learning, which consists of speaking and meeting with people; and reflection, which he does via writing. He also spoke a bit about communication and speaking skills:
- Relate to individuals even though the room may be composed of a large group. Connect with individuals; be yourself and be natural, relaxed, and conversational.
- Know your material but don’t over rehearse. You can have a set of bullet points just for yourself, as a reminder, but it is not necessary (nor is it desirable) to display them on a screen for all to see. Much better is to improvise while you talk; it is much like playing jazz, and will sound more natural. Tell stories that are relevant to your points and your audience. Aim to “engage at the personal level.”
As of the interview, which was in the middle of 2007, Robinson said he was working on a new book, The Element, which will be about how folks “achieve their best when in their element.” I eagerly await the book and the launching of his new site Sir Ken Robinson. Meanwhile, you can read more about Sir Ken at Principal Voices, including this White Paper: Creativity in the Classroom, Innovation in the Workplace.