Sir Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Kira Koop

IL – Creativity

Robinson, K. (February 2006). Ken robinson: Do schools kill creativity? [Video] TED2006.
(but also here:

Sir Ken Robinson delivered this TEDtalk more than ten years ago, and in it, he very cleverly mixes story and ideas to illustrate his points and connect to his audience. He addresses the notions of creativity, of failing, of the hierarchy within schools of subjects and values, as well as multiple intelligences.

I quite enjoyed this talk, in part because it’s always immensely satisfying to listen to English accents, but the content was also very interesting. I personally disagree with his emphasis on “originality” – after all, the quotation “good artists borrow, great artists steal” – Picasso, probably – is generally understood to mean that most creative content references other ideas – but he did say one thing that has resonated with me specifically: to be creative, you must be prepared to be wrong, to fail.

I was thinking about this within the context of my fine art background through high school, before my BFA. My high school art teacher built “idea pages” into his assignments for us. We weren’t allowed to start a project until we had shown that we had sat down to think about and work through the process, come up with three separate plans (complete with symbolism, colour theory, media, and style) and chosen the one that worked best. It was still a high school class, and grades were still very much the method of receiving feedback, which meant that “failing” was tied into assessment, rather than the thing you created, but this process allowed us to figure out a few failures (to communicate? to create? to idealize?) before we even started. Furthermore, it removed the fear from the process: if you didn’t show through your idea page that you had grappled with failure as part of the creative process, you didn’t do it right, and you wouldn’t receive the marks for it.  

Nevertheless, his talk goes far beyond this one idea, and I hope you enjoy it.

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