(He's not on stage yet...I was just snap happy)
On Wednesday, March 30th, I met up with a few friends to hear Sir Ken Robinson speak about creativity. I am in love with creativity, and frankly I could have listened to Sir Ken talk all day long due to his British accent and dry humor (you know how I feel about British accents...everything tends to sound more intelligent). Well then, imagine that for the rest of this blog I am speaking with a British accent, because in my mind, I am.
To report on what was discussed, I will present the information in list form. If this were a piece of paper, I would create a colorful mindmap to share this information with you, but alas, this is not a piece of paper.
- Sir Ken argued that the contemporary method of education is entirely wrong. It is based off of a linear, industrialized/scientific methodized system, where people are not allowed to discover their innate talents. My favorite quote of his was this: "we must create the opportunities for people to discover their talents". They are hidden and you must dig for them. This must be based on an agricultural model, not linear but organic. He noted how it's been said that Americans don't get irony, but that this statement is not true...look at "No Child Left Behind". Americans get irony.
- The obsessive focus (the political focus) is on the so called "useful" subjects such as math, science, and technology. Standardized testing has become the purpose of education, no longer the means. He said we need to "CREATE A SPACE for the arts" (I particularly liked this statement). If you'll notice, creative people take a lot of time explaining WHY the arts are important. We must do this until people understand and the system is revolutionized. It's part of safeguarding the arts.
- The educational paradigm must change. Sir Ken said we need to forge together 1. education, 2. culture, 3. commerce. He noted we live in a time of revolution, that we must think differently and behave differently. Why? Because it's predicted that in 10 years, we will have crossed the digital revolution threshold, a time when computers will be capable of learning...they will have the capacity of a 6 mo. old baby. What will life be like 50 years from now? (I'll be 78 years old, yikes!)
- We must think differently because developing countries are quickly outpacing the West. Imagination gives us the ability to empathize (I just listened to J.K. Rowling discuss the importance of empathy in her Harvard commencement speech in 2008). The arts are a highly-disciplined, empathetic, culturally diverse field. In order to keep up with countries like China, we will need to be a country that can understand other cultures, relate to their experiences without ever having experienced them ourselves. We must learn to be innovative, flexible, and adaptive. The arts teach us how to be like this.
- Lastly, we must behave differently. Sir Ken said everyone is creative - it comes with the kit.
Imagination allows us to understand culture and change culture.
Creativity is putting imagination to work (it is teachable).
Innovation is putting ideas into practice.
Together, science, math and the arts as a WHOLE can be creative; there must be collective action.
Ben Franklin said there are 3 types of people in the world:
1. The Immovable
2. The Movable
3. Those Who Move
We must anticipate and influence the future from the ground up. This requires challenging the paradigm (I recently watched the Ben Stein documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which argued that Science has built a wall around their paradigm that Darwinism is the answer to biological evolution, and that those who propose the idea of Intelligent Design are expelled from university. The irony here (hey, I get it! ) is that if Darwin hadn't challenged the paradigm in the first place, we would never have the theory of evolution/origin of species). Sir Ken and Ben Stein seem to agree that freedom of ideas and the freedom to ask questions will allow us to advance.
- Moral of the story: paradigms need to be challenged...such as the ones regarding education, science, and the arts. If you work in education, be creative and start asking new, different questions as to how things can be done. (And, in my opinion, watch TED, because there's a lot of stuff on there that goes into detail on how to think differently, like these links here:
Understanding the Rise of China
Learning through Spoken Word Poetry
Sir Ken Brings on the Revolution
J.K.Rowling on failure and imagination