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Ken Robinson on Learning and Creativity

Reddit (in association with TED) recently asked its community to come together and create questions to ask creativity and education expert Sir Ken...

Dan Gould
Dan Gould on August 20, 2009.

Reddit (in association with TED) recently asked its community to come together and create questions to ask creativity and education expert Sir Ken Robinson. Questions were suggested, and the ten with the most votes by Reddit members were answered. The result is a fascinating exploration of creativity, school, learning and more.

Robinson begins:

The basis of my argument is: creativity isn’t a specific activity; it’s a quality of things we do. You can be creative in anything — in math, science, engineering, philosophy — as much as you can in music or in painting or in dance. And you can certainly be involved in the arts in ways that are especially creative. And so it’s important to emphasize that it’s not about creating some small space in schools where people can be creative, and particularly not if that means just tacking on some art programs on a Friday afternoon. It’s about the way we do things.

And that really has a couple of implications. One of them is, if you want to encourage creativity in education, there are a couple of ways to think about it. One is that there are skills of creative thinking that can be taught. I think of this as general creativity. You can help them think productively, generate ideas effectively, help them to think of alternative approaches to issues and questions. So there are very specific skills that can be taught, and in a metaphorical sense, it’s kind of like a grammar of creativity. It’s a series of processes, not an event. And helping people understand how that works is an important part of being creative. You wouldn’t expect people to become literate just by hoping it’d happen. There was a time when people argued seriously that it was difficult to teach working class people to read and write — that they didn’t have the capacity for it. This was before the beginning of public education. But now we know that most people — we take it as axiomatic and ethically important that most people can be taught to read or write. But they have to be taught. They have to be given tools and techniques for it.

Read the whole Q&A here.

Thinking...