“I believe this passionately: that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.”
I recently began the journey to become a teacher at SDSU and on my fourth day of class our Professor turns off the lights and shows us Ken Robinson’s TED talk about how schools are killing creativity. In a world focused on innovation, creation, and the “next big thing” it is at times concerning that schools place more value in math and literacy, subjects that should be equally as important as creativity.
I recently finished reading Fareed Zakaria’s In Defense of a Liberal Education and was shocked by many of the facts and statistics I found. It is no surprise that the U.S. is the top nation in the world when it comes to innovation and creation; however it is interesting that this fact is dwindling in support when it comes to universities and schools. The new American Dream is to drop out of college, code in a basement, and maybe create a million dollar start up, or maybe work for a big company like Google or Apple.
This sounds nice right? Drop out and make it big. I mean you have me convinced, but the question is, how are you going to beat out the best, the competition, the rest of the population who is trying to do the same thing? The answer is two words: get creative.
As Robinson stated in his talk, creativity is our ability to create something new that has value, something original, something that is the opposite of ordinary. This doesn’t come from one sole thing. It cannot be mass produced, but more importantly no two creative thinkers are alike, meaning the way creative people see, hear, taste, think, and learn is diverse, dynamic, and distinct.
As the video ended and our class sat in silence, I understood the importance of the video not only as a creative thinker myself, but for our class as a whole. We go to school to learn, to find our passion, to fall in love with something- whether it is calculus, the human body, Chaucer, or a grapes ability to turn into wine- we choose to follow a path.
Fareed Zakarai interviewed a group of people in Generation Y asking them what it is they want to do when they get older. Hoping to find inspirational answers: A painter? A dancer? A social worker? A firefighter? Our generation’s answer: I want to make money. I was sickened by this response when I read it; however we have been trained to believe money will lead to happiness. Success will lead to happiness. Hard work will lead to happiness. But we are wrong.
What both Robinson, Zakaria, and my Professor are trying to tell us, is that we are what we believe. If we believe our ability to paint is not seen as a worth profession in our society, then we won’t believe in our talents. If we see wealthy people on reality tv shows and think our only way to be extremely happy is to live like them, then we will in turn believe money can buy happiness. It is our job to change this, this insane idea that happiness is something that can be bought, that creativity is something that should be harnessed a specific way, and that one degree is worth more than another.
All humans are born creative and happy,and I hope as a I continue this program my fellow classmates and I can learn how to value, respect, and validate what children bring to the table. More people are earning degrees now than ever before, making what was once a unique degree now part of academic inflation. My advice? So stay creative, think outside the box, ask questions, and follow that calling inside because innovation does not come from conformity and the next big thing cannot be found in the answer key of a textbook. We are always learning (even after we graduate from college) and it’s only when we decide to stop that we grow away from it all.