As a father of two children, one of school age, I am finally enjoying my first moments of peace and quiet for what seems like weeks.
But in saying goodbye to school holidays earlier this week, I was torn between a sense of relief and a sense of disappointment. Relief because the number of live-in interstate visitors has ceased and life at home has returned to ‘normality’, but disappointment because I will miss helping my daughter write her very first literary masterpiece.
Her ‘brief’ was to write ‘My Holidays Book’. And while it’s not the first story my daughter has told, it is the first she has committed to paper and it has been very interesting to see the way she has tackled the storyline. Normally her stories begin with, “Once upon a time there was a princess and then my dog Tilly….”
But this story is about her holiday adventures. It is a journal of her last fortnight rather than a creative masterpiece. Or is it?
The process of helping my daughter with her book has reminded me of a TED talk from some time ago (in 2006) by Sir Ken Robinson about how school kills creativity.
Sir Ken Robinson introduced a number of well-made points, including the simple thought that we tend to ‘squander’ the talent of children. Why? Because, children are born with a great ability to innovate, they are prepared to have a go and in fact to be wrong. But, as we grow into adults and become better educated, there is too much value placed on being right and not enough value placed on being yourself.
As Sir Ken himself says, “If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”.
So, in an industry like advertising where originality is at the core of everything we do, does that mean we need to be wrong more often, to be right?
Well this idea left me thinking about one particular day of junior journaling in which I may have inadvertently stifled my daughter’s creativity. How? I had helped her write the story ‘right’ by making it factually correct, rather than letting her story take its own shape.
But, later that day as she proudly presented the story to my wife I overheard her disclaiming that her entry today was not right because dad had told her what to write rather than helping her to write her own story. See, while I’d made sure the facts of her story were now correct, it was wrong in her eyes because it had lost its originality.
Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk was created in 2006 and has been viewed over 28 million times, leaving me to wonder how many influential people are among this rather large audience and what positive changes may have occurred not only in education, but in agencies the world over.
It’s a good 20 minutes long, but if you haven’t seen Sir Ken’s TED Talk (or would like a refresher!) here it is in all it’s glory:
As adults, it’s time to think like kids again and bring back original thinking.
Tim Higginson is a Group Account Director at BCM