The thing about creativity is . . .

Of the TED videos I watched Saturday, Sir Ken Robinson was the best. Almost everything he said can be published in books of quotations, but I’ll limit myself to two, one from each video.

I loved this quote from the first video, “Schools kill creativity”: “Human communities depend upon a diversity of talent, not a singular conception of ability.” Sir Robinson has a argument here: education should recognize that we all can’t be scientists or mathematicians and that the arts are useless. If we were all the same, life wouldn’t be worth living–we would quite literally die of boredom. The diversity of ideas and abilities make the world go round, and once we realize this we open doors to intersect ideas and abilities.

For example, I’m writing a novel that was inspired by indie rock; I knew I wanted to write a novel in which music becomes the focus of the story but I didn’t know how to execute the idea until I listened to the very thing I wanted to use. Now imagine if the musicians were discouraged from their craft. They were told to abandon the senseless idea of creating songs professionally. Well, I don’t think I would have the inspiration needed to start my novel.

And there’s something else to consider in the bid to kill creativity: we wouldn’t have the mental release needed after a long day of solving equations and conducting experiments. We may some times forget what the arts do for us: we can see the world from a different angle. Instead of walking through life, talking the nuisances of the day, we take a break from that walk and see something different about being human. We really don’t know who we are until we stop our work and pay attention to message that comes from the work. We are armed with that message the following day when we begin our walk again.

The next quote comes from the second video, “Bring on the learning revolution”: “Human flourishing is an organic process”. Ever wonder that school is more like a factory, or an assembly line? Every student walks through the same series of classes, exploring math, science, social studies, and English before graduating. But then what happens? Their paths diverge.  Those prepared for college may immediately find a career or attend a technical school (thus dashing a teacher’s dream for a student to become a professor). If the choices students make after high school graduation are diverse, we should rethink the purpose of teaching and education. Emphasis falls on college degree and a general education can lead to that. But general education can 1.) Provide students with the skills needed to be productive citizens and 2.) In the context of citizenship, teach students how to be life-long self-learners.

These two purposes behind education and teaching has a broader goal than the singular college-track student, which may not be the desire of a student. I think Sir Robinson would be proud of my analysis! Well, I hope!

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