Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Do our schools kill creativity" - Sir Ken Robinson

I talk about creativity, often - and education, sometimes - because I make a good part of my living from teaching creativity, in all aspects, much more than just the artistic. But rather than me going on about it, this talk by Sir Ken Robinson at the TED conference in 2006 does far better than I could ever do. Give it a look.

conference, Creativity, Design, Education, Marketing, SDM, Sir Ken Robinson, technology, TED"Why don't we get the best out of people? Sir Ken Robinson argues that it's because we've been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "We are educating people out of their creativity," Robinson says. It's a message with deep resonance. Robinson's TEDTalk has been distributed widely around the Web since its release in June 2006. The most popular words framing blog posts on his talk? "Everyone should watch this."

A visionary cultural leader, Sir Ken led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a massive inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy, and was knighted in 2003 for his achievements. His latest book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, a deep look at human creativity and education, was published in January 2009.

I wonder about the SDM conference coming up this week and had they thought to have gotten a speaker on this level, with an actual relevant topic, it might have provoked far more interest and excitement than the bulk of industry salespeople and hijacked model they've assembled instead - and been an educational networking experience, well worth the money. Thanks to Hugh MacLeod for reminding me of this film. Hugh has been a long time proponent of "Social Objects" - created things that get conversations started. This talk by Sir Ken is a bona-fide social object. It will get you thinking, then talking, and hopefully doing - digital or otherwise.

For more on Creativity, Education and the like, check below:

"Do Our Schools Kill Creativity?" - Sir Ken Robinson
Brand Marketing and Staff Training in Vietnam
2009 Marketing Predictions
The Language Barrier - An Asian Business Conundrum


  1. This is so cool!

    Sir Ken Robinson (SirKenRobinson) is now following your updates on Twitter.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, David. As one who studied in a number of schools, his interpretation holds true that schools tend to stigmatise creativity.

    I grew up wanting to be an orchestra conductor and here am I, a trainer. :D

    Expounding a bit on Sir Ken Jonhson's address, students in Asia (where I am from) are not encouraged think or decide; much less be creative. Forming one's own opinion is usually deemed as being radical. The fact that the word "radical" has a negative connotation to it, is also a product of the education system.

    Malaysia's education system is not far from what is described in Sir Johnson's presentation. However, in that country, the government set the education policies. The ultimate point of arrival is to mold every students to be part of the workforce when they leave school. This, of course, would also grew the statistics of tax payers.

    Creativity from artists around are only given recognition when their work provoked the past glory of our almost forgotten tradition and culture.

    Teaching or educating, used to be termed the "noble calling" that demands awe, reverence and respect form students and society alike. Somehow, that same awe, reverence and respect have been redefined as fear, intimidation and avoidance.

    I have the privilege to speak to graduating students in 2 universities here in Vietnam on the topic of employ ability in today's economy. The shock faces that greeted me was not the fact that the job market is very competitive, but because I told the students that they have to be creative with what they were trained for and be resourceful about it. In short, a mere degree is not enough.

    I exhorted the courage and creativity of those who wanted to be entrepreneur by starting small businesses. I was later chastised by the lecturers that I should have encouraged them to go for their masters' program instead.

    Myopic I may be, but there is still light at the end of this tunnel.

  3. Thanks so much Zo. Your opinion is considered, educated and oh so grounded in reality. Probably you are still a conducter - only you conduct minds. We are all trainers, we just don't know it sometimes. It scares me when others use me for an example. How fucked up!

    "I used to ever not be able to spell e.d.u.c.a.t.o.r and now I are one!"

  4. In fact, in a society, there are two types of employees. A man who want to work (workers) and a man who think creatively (managers).

    Yes, our schools know how to tech workers obey well. That's good, we do need a lot of workers, though. Too much people who think, nobody will listen to others. However, the failure is that, we can't separate the talents from the crowd to put them in a different class to educate another way. I guess, we need to create a special environment for kids who are unique from others.

    I also agree that passion does create creativity.

    I wrote an article about it.

  5. Compelling. Thanks for the observation.

  6. This is so true, its not just education that suffers from the complaint of stunted creativity... business is so rife with this also. To corporations, especially fortune100 ranked creativity is a bad word, but process is good.... what I would like to see is a healthy mix. In my humble opinion creativity is a big advantage and perhaps if everyone were to practice what Ken Robinson is suggesting in a protectionist bent would we be worse off or just crave the old ways and just take the pill?.... now thats provocative.

  7. Adrian;

    Sometimes I think the whole world is just set up to produce the same old machines and anything that upsets that balance is thrown out (Old Korean proverb: The nail that sticks up gets hammered down)

    - time for a revolution

    Nobody should look to Asia for creativity. Their societies breed it out of them - it might well be the obly "oroduct advantage" the west has left.

    We should keep that in mind.

  8. Wish I could type. Machines do that well!


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