Monday, 21 January 2013

C is for... Cultivating Creativity

I watched this TED talk the other day, and I completely agree with everything said. Here's the blurb from the TED site:

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.
Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we're educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.

This talk, along with a blog post I wrote a while back called Schools Out sum up why I have absolutely no nostalgia for my high school and why I wasn't sad, or indeed surprised, when it closed.

I vividly remember a chalk drawing that I did, that I was so proud of. In art class one afternoon we had to find something from the still life shelves to draw. I think this was where all the junk in the school came to die. I was one of the last to get there and ended up with slim pickings. The best option was this really freaky looking clown doll - that is how slim the pickings were. I took it back, plonked it on my desk and stared at it gloomily for a couple of minutes before I attempted anything. I'm glad I did. I had the idea that I would go and get some black sugar paper and chalks and try something different. Having just done a still life class the week before we had learnt about lights and darks, shadings and lightening, I thought this was going to be a real brownie points for Squarah moment. I only drew the lightest parts. The bits that lay in heavy shadow I left blank, letting the black paper come through. As it was a really colourful clown doll with a shiny porcelain face it worked really well. I could make the parts of his face that the light was hitting really stand out on the black with white chalk. All the colours of his costume looked so vivid in comparison. I was so proud of what I had done.

Before we could move on to something new we had to show our teacher our work. She came over and told me I wasn't finished. I hadn't done the shading. I explained my thoughts on the black paper and that I had done everything I had been intending to. My idea was done as far as I was concerned; I couldn't understand why she didn't get it. Then she did the unforgivable. She picked up the chalk. She drew on it. She started shading it all in. She did part of it, then put the chalk down and gave me the instruction that I was to finish it the way she had.

I sat there not doing anything for the rest of the class. When the bell went I got up, put all my things away, and on my way out to the door put my clown drawing in the bin. Right in front of her. Her only response was "That's a shame. It showed real promise, if you had only finished it properly." What could have ended with such joy, which is after all what art is for the most part there for, ended instead with frustration and a blood boiling anger that I carried the rest of the day. The worst of it was that I knew she had failed me. I was so angry at her because it was my first taste of my time at school not actually having anything to do with me. Me as a person, me as a talent, me as an exact combination that has never been before. From then on I did what the art teachers wanted me to, and I drew for my own enjoyment at home. Doing precisely as instructed I got straight A's in all my art exams, which were so regimented it was like painting in an army labour camp. I got points deducted once for lending the girl beside me a pencil sharpener. NEIN! Das ist verboten!

So here, after my rambling tale of sorrow, is the video. It is worth watching, so don't look at it and think 'twenty minutes, pah!' Also, if you enjoy it and have some time to spare there are plenty more great talks on the TED website.


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