Personalize Education to Discover True Passion

Education doesn’t need to be reformed – it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.

Ken RobinsonThe Element

8 Competencies Schools Should Teach Now

creativeschoolsBack to Sir Ken Robinson again. In his book, Creative Schools, he outlines eight core competencies that schools should facilitate if they are really going to help students succeed in their lives:

  1. Curiosity – the ability to ask questions and explore how the world works
  2. Creativity – the ability to generate new ideas and to apply them in practice
  3. Criticism – the ability to analyse information and ideas and to form reasoned arguments and judgments
  4. Communication – the ability to express thoughts and feelings clearly and confidently in a range of media and forms
  5. Collaboration – the ability to work constructively with others
  6. Compassion – the ability to emphasise with others and to act accordingly
  7. Composure – the ability to connect with inner life and feeling and develop a sense of personal harmony and balance
  8. Citizenship – the ability to engage constructively with society and to participate in the processes that sustain it

It’s a great list, and completely challenging if you have children that are in education sytems…

Ken Robinson Defines Creativity

Sir KenSir Ken Robinson gives his take on creativity:

‘It’s sometimes said that creativity cannot be defined: Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value.

There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative, another is that creativity is only about the arts, a third is the creativity cannot be taught and a fourth is that it’s all to do with uninhibited “self-expression.” None of these is true. Creativity draws from many powers that we all have by virtue of being human. Creativity is possible in all areas of human life, in science, the arts, mathematics, technology, cuisine, teaching, politics, business, you name it. And like many human capacities, our creative powers can be cultivated and refined. Doing that involves an increasing mastery of skills, knowledge and ideas.

Creativity is about fresh thinking. It doesn’t have to be new to the whole of humanity – though that’s always a bonus – but certainly to the person whose work it is. Creativity also involves making critical judgements about whether what you’re working on is any good, be it a theorem, a design, or a poem. Creative work often passes through typical phases. Sometimes what you end up with is not what you had in mind when you started. It’s a dynamic process that often involves making new connections, crossing disciplines and using metaphors and analogies.

Being creative is not just about having off-the-wall ideas and letting your imagination run free. It may involve all of that, but it also involves refining, testing, and focusing what you’re doing. It’s about original thinking on the part of the individual, and it’s also about judging critically whether the work in process is taking the right shape and is worthwhile, at least for the person producing it.

Creativity is not the opposite of discipline and control. On the contrary, creativity in any field may involve deep factual knowledge and high levels of practical skill. Cultivating creativity in one of the most interesting challenges for any teacher. It involves understanding the real dynamics of creative work.

Creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. Focusing on skills in isolation can kill interest in any discipline. Many people have been put off mathematics for life by endless rote tasks that did nothing to inspire them with the beauty of numbers. Many spent years grudgingly practicing scales for music examinations only to abandon the instrument once they’ve made the grade.

The real drive of creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done. Their mastery of them grows as their creative ambitions expand. You’ll find evidence of this process in great teaching in every discipline from football to chemistry.’

(Excerpt taken from Sir Ken Robinson’s book Creative Schools; pages 118-120)

Inspiring Creativity Film by Liberatum

Inspiring Creativity is a short film (11 mins) created by Liberatum, directed by Pablo Ganguli and Tomas Auksas, and presented by illy, featuring 21 artists and cultural figures from art, fashion, film, design, technology and music. The film is an insider’s perspective on inspiration from the minds of leading creative personalities including:

Diana Picasso, Academy Award winner Hans Zimmer, Inez van Lamsweerde, Vinoodh Matadin, Academy Award nominee James Franco, Joan Smalls, Johan Lindeberg, Jonas Mekas, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Nico Muhly, Karen Elson, Karim Rashid, Klaus Biesenbach, Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels, Lola Montes Schnabel, Marilyn Minter, Mark Romanek, Tracey Emin, Moby, Paul Schrader, and TED founder Richard Saul Wurman.

Through the authentic interpretation and responses from these individuals, the overall project communicates what inspires creative thinking and behaviors for nurturing inspiration, while provoking thoughts on how culture, society, and technology continue to affect creativity.

Stubborn Creativity

Hans ZImmerHans Zimmer when talking about his educational experience said that, “it took stubbornness for [his] creativity to survive.”

You need to be determined to maintain your own views, your own tastes and be your own you.

As a father, I may not want to have stubborn children (they must get it from their mother!) but if it means that they keep on creating, I will be happy!

Creativity Is Born From Restriction & Limitation

Paul Schrader“A lot of people think that creativity is about freedom, freedom to act on your ideas and imagination. But I don’t think that is true. I think true creativity comes from restriction and limitation.” Paul Schrader

Paul mentions this quote in a  short video where musical creativity is being discussed. I think the quote, “necessity is the mother of creativity” is particularly appropriate here. Most creativity appears when it is really needed. I think it’s hard to be as creative in a comfortable environment, as the “need to” is less strong or even non-existent.

Paul Schrader is an American screenwriter, film director, and film critic. Schrader wrote or co-wrote screenplays for four Martin Scorsese films: Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead.

John Cleese’s 3 Steps to Increase Creativity

John CleeseJohn Cleese is one of the best comedy writers and actors that Britain has produced. At a recent event, he was asked about creativity.

Cleese said that his teachers did not recognise the creativity that was within him. “People who don’t have it can’t recognise it,” he said, “Creativity doesn’t have to be taught; it has to be liberated.”

However, the process of being creative is a complicated process. According to Cleese, creating and improving ideas is a three-step cycle that pairs the brain’s slow-moving unconscious with the fast-moving logical side.

Step 1 – Preparation
“You’ve been preparing all your life,” Cleese says, by living and studying and working and thinking, but the task at hand may require asking specific questions of specific people or carrying out other research.

Step 2 – Incubation
Ever notice how the solution to a problem strikes you when you wake up? Give your unconscious a chance to think, starting with a quiet space you can let your mind slowly wander. “Incubation is not about wracking your brain. The enemy of incubation is interruption.”

Step 3 – Inspiration
“That’s the ‘aha’ moment. Hints from the unconscious [need] to be interpreted, and it may take some time.”

This process would explain why an idea seems to come all of a sudden, but in reality, it is a result of long period of observation, fermentation and a rapid coming together perfect moment that leads to a creative explosion!

NB: Parts of this article was originally written and published by the Upstart Business Journal.

Why Do 6 Year Olds Need Spelling Tests?

spellingIs it me? Spelling tests for 6 year olds? Really?

I get the need to spell correctly, but what is the aim of being able to spell? Surely it is to be able to communicate and converse in a written form. However, what is the point of being able to spell correctly if the creative sentence cannot be crafted and created?

The written word has such power to express the emotional state of mankind. Most repressive regimes start by burning books and rounding up those that think and write creatively; it’s not helpful to their aims and desires for power to have people who can able to question and communicate this to others.

I’m aware that I am biased here, but my child is at the stage where writing has such a fascination. She is always writing notes and cards to everyone. It’s an act of love and the misspelt words add to the magic. If we corrected her spelling instead of appreciating the act and the thought, we would dishearten her and the notes would stop. This is not the desired outcome!

I do not like poor spelling, believe me, I spot the typos, but spelling tests for six year olds? Come on! In my opinion, it’s such a crass way to measure education performance of children. Get them to write a story and see how they can communicate and express themselves.

We must teach people (not just children) creative writing, teach them how to spin a yarn, how to express feelings and build confidence, and only then correct the words so they understand how to make what they do even better.

So what if my child cannot spell yet, that will come. I am just loving that right now she loves writing, and I don’t want anything to kill it.

Rant over…