Back-to-School Thoughts on Creativity

As I was weeding my RSS feeds this morning (aiming to get down from 250 or so to a more manageable target of 100 that I can regularly peruse), I came across a post in which this excellent video from TED 2006, a quick talk from Sir Ken Robinson, was embedded:

It’s a great talk with lots of thought-provoking elements, and one particular portion reflects exactly what SMUG is all about. He says (in the conclusion of a story that begins at about the 4:15 mark):

Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go…They’re not frightened of being wrong. Now, I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative, but what we do know is if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you will never come up with anything original…and by the time they get to be adults most kids have lost that capacity.

This is another way of saying what I often say in my presentations, in anticipation of the “I’m too old to understand all this social media stuff! The kids are the ones that get this, because they’re grown up with it!” objection:

You’re kids aren’t smarter than you are. They’re just not afraid to look dumb!

So don’t just take my word for it. Take it from an internationally recognized expert on creativity who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and who has his own entry in Wikipedia (as opposed to a guy who gave himself the “Chancellor” title.)

If you haven’t yet become a SMUGgle, I hope you’ll enroll now. It’s 100 percent free, and it’s your chance to get hands-on experience in social media in a non-threatening environment.

And maybe it will help rekindle some of the creativity that the educational system (and the industrialized workplace) has been driving out of you for decades.

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Author: Lee Aase

Married father of six and grandfather of seven, and the Chancellor of SMUG - Social Media University, Global. By day I'm the Director of the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network. Whatever I say here is my personal opinion, and doesn't reflect the positions of my employer.

2 thoughts on “Back-to-School Thoughts on Creativity”

  1. Oh Lee, you’ve done it again. You have such a gift for plucking the high-energy signal from the noise. Sir Ken Robinson so artfully reminds us of the profound truth that it is impossible to educate in a way that gives us all of the skills necessary to manage future events. That’s why it’s so important not to “educate creativity out” of our kids. It also puts some reason behind a phenomenon many of us are seeing right now: our degree does not necessarily have much of a direct bearing on our job. Back in the day, I ignored the “benign advice” and obtained a studio art degree in an attempt to “educate creativity back in” before facing the world. I’ve sometimes regretted that, but now, 25 years later, I am so very thankful I did. Thanks, Lee.

  2. Lee, this is absolutely marvelous and so relevant. Love the idea that “Creativity is as important as literacy.”

    Thank you for bringing it to my attention. It’s funny how – once you’re able to pull away that blinder that “blinds” us to creativity and newness and sources of learning – how the whole world opens up. That’s what I love about the social media world. It has opened up so many new ideas, concepts and possibilities…

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