How to Stay Creative (After You Grow Up)

September 20, 2013

In a country where standardized tests have become the measure of a good education, Sir Ken Robinson and TV executive Anne Sweeney talk about gaining access to music and the arts early in life, developing creativity — and figuring out how to hold onto it into adulthood. Below, their thoughts on what a true education should really look like.

"The continuum, as I see it, starts with imagination," Sir Ken Robinson says in Fast Company's September issue. "It's the most extraordinary set of powers that we take for granted: the ability to bring into mind the things that aren't present. It's why we are so different from the rest of life on earth. That's why we're sitting in a beautiful building, drinking from these cups. Because human beings make things. We create things. We don't live in the world directly; we live in a world of ideas and of concepts and theories and ideologies."

Sitting on a veranda at the home of Disney/ABC Television group president Anne Sweeney, Sir Ken Robinson talks to Sweeney about the necessity of holding onto your creativity and imagination as you enter into adulthood.

Sweeney, a TV executive who studied to become a teacher, credits her parents as the ones who helped her access and maintain her creativity. "I think it's the positive side of indulgence," Sweeney says. "They made sure if there was a production in town, we went. I tried out for every play, and they never said, 'No, don't do it, because it's going to be a pain to pick you up after rehearsals.' They insisted upon creating opportunities for us."

It's the most extraordinary set of powers that we take for granted: the ability to bring into mind the things that aren't present.

But what happens when, as Sweeney says, "we get off track? Picasso said, 'Every child is an artist,' but does there come a point where we lose sight of that? And how do we get it back?"

"How do you tap into that?" Robinson says. "It's what you're saying about your parents. If your parents hadn't encouraged you, maybe required you, to play the piano and the flute, how would you know if you could have done that? We have all these latent talents, but you need circumstances to show it. You have people sitting around with all kinds of untapped potential."

For us, helping students tap into that potential is essential. Not only does it encourage them to think about (and approach) problems and situations in novel ways, it opens them to opportunities they may not have realized existed. And making sure those possibilities are as abundant as possible is what we're all about.

To read the rest of their conversation, click here.

Photo by Pamela Littky, courtesy of Fast Company

By Lisa Merlini

Tag: Exploring Education

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