Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Creativity and Reckless Ambition

I’m no academic. I hit the business world running straight from school and learnt from a bunch of mentors who continue to have a profound effect on my ideas and actions. I think this background is one of the reasons why I empathised so strongly with a talk by education visionary Ken Robinson. The talk was given at last year’s TED Conference and Sir Ken’s talk lives on courtesy of the Internet. It is wise, funny and profound. He tells great stories to illuminate creativity. He shows how obsessed we have become with training brains to the detriment of all other human potential. He brings to life dancers who languished at school until their need to move constantly was recognized as creative rather than irritating, as well as academics who regard their bodies as a way to get their heads to meetings. He stresses how kids often reveal how cautious and fearful we become as we grow up. He reckons we aren’t educated into creativity, we are educated out of it. In one story, Sir Ken summed up everything that I believe about the joy of creativity, the power of optimism and the huge value of recklessness. Here it is.

“I heard a great story recently and I love telling it, of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was about six, in the back, drawing. The teacher said this little girl hardly ever paid attention but in this drawing lesson she did. The teacher was fascinated. She went over to her and asked, ‘What are you drawing?’ The girl said, ‘I’m drawing a picture of God’. The teacher said, ‘But nobody knows what God looks like’. And the girl said, ‘They will in a minute’.”

You can bet that I will take this story to the next gathering of Imagination@Lancaster and to my classes at the Universities of Waikato and Cambridge.