In honor of Sir Ken Robinson’s recent passing, and as one of the major inspirations for Circletime, we felt it was due time to reflect on creativity. He gave a TED talk back in 2006 where he posits the question on the impact of the current education model on creativity. It has become one of the most watched TED talks of all time. If you haven’t yet listened, you’ll find the link at the end of our post, below.
Future Proofing Our Children
If you’re anything like us, you worry about how to prepare your children for a future that is increasingly uncertain. Our parents were promised a future of prosperity by becoming engineers, lawyers, and doctors. We are living a much more unclear path for ourselves and for our children. In fact, we are getting bombarded about how so many traditional careers will pretty much disappear in the next twenty years. With innovation speeding up to a breakneck speed, it’s easy to find yourself on shaky ground and wading through conflicting messages on how to offer your children the right resources and opportunities.
But, as it turns out, computers are great at optimizing. They are not so great at goal-setting. Or even using common sense. In fact, those remain very much human competitive advantages. McKinsey concluded that the hardest activities to automate involve managing and developing people or applying expertise to decision making, planning, or creative work.
Consensus: don’t just focus on technical skills. Make space to nurture creativity. The research currently bears out that it’s less important to focus on strictly technical skill-building. Coding, for example, is a great thing for kids to learn conceptually, but there’s no way to know what languages will be prevalent or even if we will continue to code as we do now. Rather, creativity is one of the biggest skill gaps in the workforce today and the most relevant skills in the future of the workforce.
Invest In Their Creativity
Surprisingly, creativity is not limited to art. It is about problem solving as well. But the two are interlinked. So, before you rush to google “apps that will turn my child into a painter,” understand that we are not simply talking about supporting children on a path to an artistic life. We need to support artistic development more broadly. Ultimately, we need more people who can problem-solve by weaving together seemingly disconnected elements or ideas.
And how do we ensure our children grow up to be creative? Well, that’s the challenge. As Robinson argues, we don’t grow INTO creativity, we grow OUT of it. So make the first years of life a time when children are encouraged to tap into their natural desire to explore. Value their innate curiosity about how things work. Help them strengthen their creativity muscles. Observe how they reimagine the way things can come together and how the world can work.
Shift the Education Paradigm in Your Own Home
Specifically, Robinson worried that we EDUCATE ourselves out of curiosity, calling for a radical change in education value systems that always rank the arts dead last. As it turns out, he is spot on. We need to nurture more disciplines that are open ended. We need to ensure diverse perspectives. When we put too much emphasis on strict academic content, we ruin a child’s ability to think outside the box, sometimes permanently. In other words, we urgently need to shift our school system. Education has to re-invent itself away from a focus on knowledge-transfer and career-specificity. That is how we will ensure the next generations are adequately prepared for the future of work.
Embrace the silver lining in these challenging times as much as possible! With children in hybrid or fully remote learning situations, parents can shift the education paradigm. Give children the time and room for the arts, for open-ended play, for unstructured activities as much as you can. Give them as much importance as you do to sight words, book reading, playing with shapes and counting. Let’s put the value of History Rocks and Zen Space Paper Play on the same level as Ready for Reading!