The fall & rise of creativity! Lessons in education and success from an English knight and an Aussie guru…

I believe it was Tony Blair who uttered those famous words, “education, education, education” on the importance of, well, education (the last 2 gave it away) during a political campaign.

Lying, war criminality and painfully poor acting aside, this puppet man was absolutely right. Obviously going a terrible way about it but correct in that the formative years of a child’s development are paramount.

As part of the TED Talk series on the FortressFree blog, we’ll jump straight in with one of the best out there…

We get educated with Sir Ken!

Currently, this is the most watched TED Talk with over 41,000,000 views on the TED site and countless more on YouTube… and in my opinion the best delivered.

It’s about a very interesting and important topic of course, but also this guy is hilarious. He gets up and you expect a posh fuddy-duddy British professor type but he throws in a fair amount of dry humour.

This could equally appear on this blog as a comedy clip… and he gets the right balance in making us laugh and making us think… go Kenneth!

Gold. This guy’s comic timing is exceptional and an extremely intelligent discussion. He also has at least one other TED Talk kicking about somewhere…

So, do schools kill creativity?

Well, yes. Of course they do. And you need to ask yourself what schools actually are and the purpose they serve. But that’s perhaps a lengthy debate and rant for another day ;)

Although I will say this now… this is a place where anyone not conforming gets actively punished and labelled as a naughty, disruptive child. Also attributed with (usually erroneously) all kinds of weird and wonderful ailments — ADD, ADHD, OCD, Lloyds TSB. It’s all actually creativity that has been suppressed and not expressed appropriately.

School as it stands is all about learning facts and figures and regurgitating that information back. So the person with the best memory wins! Although the poor sod will soon realise that this doesn’t help in the real world and that they have to start from scratch with, you know, actual life skills.

And that is what schools should do (if they should exist at all — certainly the current format needs to be ‘re-jigged’ to say the least), nurture a little human so they can make the best of themselves and make a contribution to the world.

Unfortunately, the current system is just about making dutiful, unquestioning, drone citizens and setting them up for the dreaded ‘workplace’ where they’ll mindlessly nod their head along for another 40 years. Although I think — THANKFULLY — attitudes are changing and the populace is waking up. Hurrah!

“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity, or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world”
~ Paulo Freire

Have you ever wondered why these kids have to wear the same clothes? And why do they have any homework at all? Odd isn’t it. I’ve never been given a satisfactory explanation about all this. Like taxes. And religion. Anywho…

The Guru

A few years back I worked a summer season in Ayia Napa, Cyprus which included selling boat party tickets. The guy in charge was a fairly uncouth Aussie chap who called himself ‘Guru’. I don’t think that was his real name, must have been a branding thing…

The reason I bring this character into all this is due to something he said in one of his infamous night time motivational meetings. He said the following:

“The world’s full of smart f*****s working for dumb c***s”

He also insisted he was ‘thick as pig shit’. I popped the old asterixes in to spare your blushes as this is a family show… but you get the idea. Many ‘stupid’ people running companies and smashing it, and the real clever clogs working for them and making them money.

Now, the truth is these people are far from dumb as they have certain skills that they offer. They might be slightly extroverted, have big ideas, are optimistic, are prepared to put in the graft over a sustained period of time, are fearless, can manage people, etc.

Richard Branson doesn’t fly the planes. Howard Schultz doesn’t make the coffee. Bill Gates doesn’t fix your computer (he also won’t give you a million dollars for sending an email, but that’s another blog post).

Successful people know how to delegate. They know who they are (self-awareness, the key to all!), they double down on their strengths and they pay other people to do the rest. And those other people may be far better at those tasks as well as actually enjoy them so it makes sense for all.

So no, they’re not stupid. And certainly not Guru (he saw an opportunity and rinsed it). Highly intelligent in a sense as they’ve worked out how to play the game (or have that gift naturally). EQ over IQ.

They’re just not ‘clever’ in a traditional, schooling sense. Probably couldn’t remember a thing so did poorly on tests. Probably didn’t pay attention in class — they had bigger fish to fry, they just didn’t know it yet.

So called ‘intelligence’ can actually be a poisoned chalice anyway. Over thinking is the biggest dream killer out there, and being particularly smart can mean that you get pats on the back for being so, but don’t actually get anywhere due to analysis paralysis.

The slightly ‘less intelligent’ folk just jump right in and don’t give it all that much thought and learn on the way. This can potentially cause problems due to lack of planning but then again you can only really learn by doing. At least this way, things are moving and can be sculpted along the way.

Creativity and the Arts should be the last things cut or reduced in the school curriculum (or anywhere else). In fact, they should be at the top of the pile with the rest in a supporting role.

Neither myself, Ken or anyone else would suggest doing away with the ‘core’ subjects, but there should certainly be a more wholesome balance for maximum benefit.

What do you think?

~ Adam

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” ~ Socrates