Creativity in education

I dropped into Cavalleros on Smith St for a coffee a couple of days ago.

The barrister asked me how I was and after me struggling to get a sentence out I admitted to not having seen anyone in a while. This led to the discussion of the nearly completed first collection and he asked whether I was studying.

I dropped out after a year at RMIT and told him so.

Turns out his best friend started there at the start of this year and has already quit. We nodded our agreements at how you didn’t need study, etc, etc and I left thoughtful.

My mother has just bought me a couple of books by Sir Ken Robinson. He discusses the flaws in education and how creativity is crushed by it. I joke that mother is trying to justify why I could never make it through (any) first year, but both parents have always been more than supportive. Father even tried to talk me out of RMIT suggesting that I might be better off just trying to work in the industry.

Creativity is a funny thing and the education system does not seem to consider it highly.

Sir Ken gives a wonderful talk on TED.com – HERE –

And I put his and my thoughts below:

A little anecdote from the above speech (completely paraphrased by me) tells of a little girl about five or so who never could concentrate in class suddenly being absorbed by drawing class. The teacher was so surprised by the girl’s sudden ability to focus that she asked what the girl was drawing.

“I’m drawing God,” was the reply.

The teacher asked her, “how? Nobody knows what God looks like.”

To which the girl replied, “They will in a minute.”

(Sir Robinson does point out, unfortunately truthfully, that children like the above would probably be diagnosed with ADD in our current society and be drugged and told to sit still)

There is something amazing about the limitless of a child’s thoughts. There are no borders or set possibilities. They are therefore unafraid of getting things ‘wrong’ as there are no defined ‘wrongs.’

Our education system is therefore designed to teach right and wrongs.

1+1=2 and does not equal 3 or 8 or 179. This gives us social norms. It gives us common communication methods and it integrates us. It passes on the knowledge from past generations so we have the chance to build on these things.

We learn that every time we drop a stick it falls to the ground. This is fact and is scientifically named.

In a lot of ways this is a wonderful thing. You want a doctor to be conducting the operation that has been tried and taught over and over rather than being creative.

“It’s never worked before, but if I just remove the liver this time….”

In other ways this becomes difficult when our current routine is failing and we need to rethink things.

Fashion – in the way it is today – is failing.

Walk down Bridge Road and every second shop is for sale or lease. More and more shops are struggling to make any sort of profit. Sales are down. Market is down. There are murmurs everywhere about the end of fast-fashion. Peak Fashion, they say.

Australia, particularly, cannot compete with big brands. We don’t have the manufacturing facilities and we don’t have the population to create the market.

What are we training designers to do? Move overseas?

How do you teach creativity and innovation?

How do we reassess entire integrated education systems and think about changing them?

Our way of living is depleting our entire earth. We are slowing killing ourselves by gorging on resources. Our way of living is failing and we need to reassess and change.

I don’t mean this as if we should all give up our cars, turn off the heating and live off broccoli in our backyard.

There is innovation out there and there are amazing amounts of change quietly creeping in, but how can we encourage this? Why do we teach our children to fit into our failing lifestyle and is there a way to foster a creativity in them that will allow them to become far better at living sustainably than us?

“By eighteen I had learnt to paint like the masters. The rest of my life I have spent trying to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso

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3 thoughts on “Creativity in education

  1. This is so true, Kat. I think, in some respects, our education system is broken. Richard Branson said something similar. Seems everything needs restructuring, not just tinkering..

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