Quote: Try Different

“The usual mantra is to ‘try harder’. Trying harder is impossible when you’re already trying as hard as you can. But you can always try different. . . If it’s not working, harder might not be the answer.”

– Seth Godin, Try Different

I would also add this:

“Instead of working at it,
play with it.”

Check out this blog post too: Play

Creativity in Schools

I’m not sure what I think of all of this, but it’s really interesting to me. I’m planning on asking my alternative certification teachers about it. As public school teachers, would they be offended or do they see some of the same things themselves? I know that in my observations, I’ve seen teachers who are very concerned about the well-being of all their students. The “condemning mistakes” idea in the video may be true of the system, but I don’t think I’d say it’s true within the classroom – at least not the ones I’ve seen. Anyway, as a future teacher myself, I’m just wrestling with all these issues for the first time  and hope to hear back from more experienced teachers with their reactions to this video.

Ken Robinson says this in his TED talk. (Click the link or scroll to the bottom to watch the video. It’s about 20min, but it’s really interesting stuff.)

Creativity is as important as literacy and should be treated with the same status.

If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. If you’re not prepared to be wrong. . . and by the time they are adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They become frightened to be wrong, and we run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso said this: “All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.” I believe this passionately – that “We don’t grow into creativity. We grow out of it.” or rather, we get educated out of it. . . . .

If you were to visit the education system as an alien and say, What’s it for? (Public Education) I think you’d have to conclude that, if you look at the output, you know, Who really succeeds by this? Who does everything they should? Who gets all the brownie points? You know, Who are the winners? I think you’d have to conclude the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. . . . And I like university professors. I used to be one, but there’s something curious about them. Not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads. They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads. It’s a way of getting their head to meetings. . .

The whole education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason, the whole system was invented. . . Around the world there were no public systems of education really before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. . . You were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you’d never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music. You’re not gonna be a musician. Don’t do art. You’re not gonna be an artist. Benign advise. . . Universities designed the system in their own image. The consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not. Because the thing they were good at in school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way. . .

We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence. We know three things about intelligence: 1) It’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually. We think it sound. We think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms. We think in movement. 2) Intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of the human brain, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity . . . more often than not comes about by the interaction of interdisciplinary ways of seeing things. . .3) Intelligence is distinct. . .

Our educational system has mined our minds in the way that we strip mine the earth – for a certain commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principals on which we are educating our children.

I have been studying to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher who is able to encourage students in every way – one who is able to recognize different gifts and abilities – even outside the realm of the subject I am hired to teach. I have also learned in my years of church work that sometimes the best education is the one that comes through mistakes. If it’s true that in order to be creative, one has to be willing to make mistakes, then maybe we should be celebrating mistakes from students those who are actually trying. I wonder how I can foster these kinds of attitudes in my classroom?

Here’s the video:


About 17 years ago, I went to the National Youth Workers Convention for the first time. It was in San Francisco that year. Anyway, while I was there, I went to a workshop on creativity by a guy named Craig McNair Wilson. It was the “Imaginuity” Workshop. Anyway, many of his ideas have really stuck with me throughout the years. His main idea is that Imagination is a great thing, but it falls short of creativity in the sense that imagination stays in the head. He combined the two words to come up with “imaginuity” which he described as “imagination” with “creativity” infused. It’s about making imaginary things happen. In my own words “imaginuity” is “imagination with wings.”

Anyway, I was reminded of all these ideas when I was reading Andy Stanley’s book Visioneering today. I’ve already posted about the difference between a dreamer and a visionary (visionaries imagine themselves getting things done, dreamers just dream). “Imaginuity” is another way of speaking about vision because it too motivates one to do something. McNair Wilson worked for Disney at one time and was called an “Imagineer” – that’s a pretty good term for a visionary too.

Anyway, these were just some thoughts I had today about vision.

I’ll try to pull out my notes from that first convention to see what else I can remember about his “imaginuity” ideas. Maybe I’ll even order the video with his teachings on the subject.

I’ll finish this post with a quote from McNair Wilson. (It has nothing to do with vision or creativity, but it’s still good.)

“If you don’t do you, you doesn’t get done and the world is incomplete. Do what you do best. Do that a lot.”