Creating Our Futures

British education expert, Ken Robinson describes creativity as,

The process of having original ideas that have value.

We have come to confuse creativity with artiness and as a result we have come to believe that only some people are creative.

It is widely agreed that divergent thinking – i.e. the type of thinking that results in the generation of multiple answers to any problem – is creative thinking and then…

In a longitudinal study of 1,500 people, 98% of one group performed at genius level in divergent thinking.

Who were this marvellous and exciting group?

Children under 8 years of age.

Not special children under eight, or artistic children under eight but ordinary children under eight.

The other 2% were probably pretty good but not quite genius level.

Sadly, this same study also showed that this capacity for creativity declined steadily as these children – retested every five years – got older.

So, that means that 98% of us start off as creative geniuses.

We sorely need creative geniuses to help us solve all the problems we face.

So, OK then, how can we get back in touch with our own ‘genius’ so that we can not only better realise our personal potential but also apply our creativity to the needs of humanity?

And how can we stop today’s under eights – and the under eights of the future – from losing their natural born creative genius?

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas. – Linus Pauling

Keep the postcards coming…


Photograph – Christmas party at works, 18/12/1937 / by Sam Hood. Taken at Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia), Ashfield, N.S.W.  Find more detailed information about this photograph:

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10 comments on “Creating Our Futures

  1. sufilight says:

    Amazing! Children under normal circumstances are open to the world, see magic and imagination in everything, and are not yet conditioned to suppress their creative expression and openeness. I think the way to connect to the ‘genius’ in ourselves, we need to become like children again, free within. It takes inner work to get there, but it’s worth it.

    • I agree and the thing is if we could get in touch with the creativity and openness we started off with when we were children and combine these capacities with the skills we have acquired as we grew up – we’d be unstoppable!

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  3. I think one of the secrets of keeping this amazing creativity in children, would be to teach children and adults various forms of brainstorming to come up with marvelous ideas in a very divergent way. But then to teach them judgement as to which ideas are worth pursuing as a separate activity. What we often do is mix up judging with attempts at creativity. So we could paint or draw without judgement but then decide which picture we want to hang on our wall so to speak. Similarly with a real problem, or in the case of my interest in conflict, a real conflict, separately first generate a ‘what if’ (my favourite question) list of possible solutions and then see how they fare against what we are trying to achieve. Though even the latter should be brainstormed at some stage to make sure its what we really want and will make us happy! Also I think humour has a big role to play in creativity. Being able to laugh at pomposity and ourselves (without putting ourselves down) helps sustain children’s creativity….Great posting setting me thinking!

    • Creating and editing are two different skills and if you try to edit while you are creating you’ll strangle your creation before it ever gets to be born! Equally, when the time comes to sort the wheat from the chaff, focus will tend to be much more useful than a divergent approach. As for humour – it just makes everything better, I figure!

  4. PS I mentor lots of 20 somethings and helping them regain their creativity and confidence in their creativity is a real challenge as is helping them then select what to do in the light of these cool ideas…..

    • There’s a great book called, “Art and Fear – Observations On the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking”, by David Bayles and Ted Orland – in this book they tell a story which I am about to paraphrase – In an art school somewhere in America, a ceramics teacher divided his class in half. He told one half that at the end of the year he would mark their work based on its quality and told the others that he would mark their work on the basis of weight. In other words, for the second lot of students they could make whatever they liked – the more the better – because heavier meant better grades!
      The interesting thing is, that at the end of the year the highest quality work was found in the half of the class who didn’t care about quality. These students obviously worked hard and produced a lot and thereby increased their expertise and even – dare I say it – their creativity.
      I know that the sheer volume and practice element is hugely important (‘How do I get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, my son’) but I also imagine that the unfortunate students in the ‘quality’ part of the class spent the year angst-ridden as they struggled to create something fantastic, while the others were free to be really creative as they didn’t have to worry at all about their work being ‘good.’

  5. No great ideas here, or any ideas.
    I have wanted to write a post on this subject for ages but could never do so without sounding pompous and ranty, so I held off. Your succinct, clear headed style expresses it perfectly.

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