But that’s where the world is …

British education guru Sir Ken Robinson tells a lovely story to illustrate the creative confidence of small children.  It’s drawing time in kindergarten class and the teacher approaches a quiet girl at the back of the room.   Teacher:  “What are you drawing, Katie”.  Katie:  “God”.   Teacher:  “But Katie, no-one knows what God looks like”.  Katie:  “Well they will in a minute”.   So why is it that if you ask a roomful of four year olds who can sing, most of the class will raise their hand, but if you ask the same question to a room of ten year olds, most hands will remain firmly under the desk?   What are we doing to our children to snuff out their creativity, douse their confidence and suppress their imagination?  It’s called school.   Sir Ken’s views on education are inspirational and I urge you to watch his wonderful Why schools kill creativity TED presentation from 2006 which has been downloaded more than ten million times.   His basic contention is that creativity is as important as literacy and that we should move away from the ‘test till you drop’ factory model of education to one that is more organic and personalized, so that children grow up in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.   Picasso said that all children are born artists.   We just dislocate them from their natural talent by sending them to left-brained schools.   And then it’s on to work, with our rules, standards, policies, hierarchies and oppressive cultures.   It’s not surprising organisations are killers of creativity.   It’s no wonder that so many people go through life without realising what talent they have and not enjoying what they do.   They endure rather than enjoy.    And it starts with schools.   I was listening to the author Michael Morpurgo at a festival last year and he was recounting how his teachers used to tell him off for looking out of the window.   “But that’s where the world is” he used to think.   And he’s right.    One of my daughter’s teachers described her as “a bit of a dreamer” the other day.   Fantastic, I thought, that’s my girl, keep it up.