TED strikes again

photo of Mary N. Crawford / Smithsonian Institute

Here’s another intriguing TED lecture, this time from Sir Ken Robinson, filmed back in 2006. And yes, that’s “Sir Ken” to you.

Robinson is a professor, leader, speaker and author who has been decorated with more awards than he can juggle, and in 2003, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his service to the arts. An underachiever, really.

The TED archive is an endless vault of inspiration. Such amazing people and ideas. But back to the talk…

Robinson (funny and perfectly self-deprecating) believes we educate children out of their creative capacities. To paraphrase Picasso, we’re all born artists, but the challenge is to remain one as you grow up.

The highlights:

– “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.”

– We stigmatize mistakes and our schools reinforce the notion that errors are the worst thing a child can produce.

– Global education systems prioritize math and languages, then humanities. Arts sit at the bottom — if there’s any money left.

– Many brilliant, creative people think they’re deficient. They’re often tagged as unfocused, learning disabled, dreamers, and now, given meds for ADHD.

– Intelligence is diverse, dynamic and distinct. It doesn’t fit a mold.

– We need to educate kids as complete beings — not just floating heads run by left-brain logic.

This summary doesn’t do justice to Robinson’s well-woven argument. But I wanted to pull these points out and chew them over a bit.

My friends and I often discuss the idea that as you get older, it feels tougher to get out of your own way and create something truly new. We’ve debated the possible reasons: cynicism, financial struggles, life and family responsibilities, disappointments, becoming more set in your ways, losing a sense of “freshness” about the world and its possibilities, and on and on.

At the same time, all those opposing forces don’t eliminate the desire to push and stretch and surprise yourself. Robinson makes me feel better about actively protecting creativity. If it’s something you want (both for yourself and a new generation), you’ve got to fight for it.

posted 29 Apr 10 in: art, inspiration, media. This post currently has 4 responses.

the critical question

photo by Leo Reynolds

There’s a question that my friend & collaborator, Lisa Johnson, has taught me to ask — over and over again:

What am I noticing?

You can apply it to your career, a frustrating project, a personal issue, or any other situation that requires assessment. Somehow, this one question unlocks all the ideas and scraps of inspiration that lurk in your mind, eluding conscious thought. It’s a personal barometer — or thermometer. Either way, it pulls up the mental roots and forces you to tell the truth.

It can also provide a creative kick-start. Grab a pen and paper (and a double decaf iced Americano, if you’re Lisa), write this question at the top and get down everything that spills into your head. We’re all familiar with the brainstorming process, but you might be surprised by what this single question reveals.

Then ask it with a twist: What am I noticing about X? Or pose it to someone else: What are you noticing about X?

Ask it often enough and you’ll have a potent guide for your creative life.

posted 27 Apr 10 in: art, inspiration. This post currently has no responses.

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