A Creativity Revolution?

One of my very favorite TED Talks was presented in 2006 by Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity and innovation.  In his presentation, Schools Kill CreativityRobinson makes a comical, compelling, and inspiring argument for transforming education.  He asserts that "we are in a new era of human existence" where we can no longer afford to squelch creativity if we hope to thrive as leaders in today's competitive global economy.  Yet, our educational system is so fixated on standardized test scores (the bane of my existence) and strict academic curriculum that space isn't made for nurturing creativity in the classroom.  Intelligence is measured by academic ability.  Students are penalized when they are wrong, but as Robinson explains, "If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original...We stigmatize mistakes.  We are educating people out of their creative capacities."

Interestingly, the very same topic grabbed the mainstream media spotlight last month when Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman published their cover story in Newsweek, The Creativity Crisis in America.  The article, backed by research and neuroscience, reinforces the same serious concerns about the decline in creatvitiy.  They also found that:

The potential consequences are sweeping. The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the
no. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions…

The evidence is pretty clear that there needs to be a significant shift in our priorities and values in education, as well as in the workplace. Both incessant exposure to video games and TV and lack of creative development in schools have been identified as being some of the root causes.

But, since we can’t solely rely on schools to fix the problem there are other strategic ways to collectively fill the creativity gap through initiatives led by technologists, product designers, entertainers, artists, non-governmental organizations, and museums.

Fortunately, this recent Newsweek article has helped galvanize national awareness regarding The Creativity Crisis. The research and findings support the work that my cohorts at Zeum and the Bay Area Discovery Museum are focused on, which gives us confidence that we are steering in the right direction!