Thanks to a semi-recent article in Fast Company (which I didn’t have time to read and instead emailed to myself as I often do) I’ve just heard Sir Robinson’s TED talk on creativity in education. It’s an incredibly popular talk for a reason.
A few excerpts:
“Creativity in education is as important as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”
“Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go; they’re not frightened of being wrong… [But] by the time they’re adults they’ve become frightened. We’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. The result is we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”
“We run our companies like this, by the way, we stigmatize mistakes.”
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll not come up with anything original.”
Right now I’m undergoing a lengthy and painful process of re-education; I’m unlearning my fear of being wrong.
Like millions of other bright kids the approval of my parents and teachers was very important to me. Disappointment was the worst form of punishment so I learned to avoid being wrong. It served me well; I was a pretty successful kid who’s grown to be a pretty successful adult.
But now I’m a married man with a child to raise, a career to craft and plans to begin my own business, which leaves me with a choice. I can be paralyzed by fear and avoid opportunities for failure furthering none of my ambitions; I can cloak myself in denial and pretend never to have failed every time I do; or I can save myself and everyone else a lot of trouble by accepting the fact that I will be wrong. I need to embrace it and move forward anyway.
Some of us are lucky enough to have grown up ‘C’ students; accustomed to falling short, cutting loose the need for approval, dusting off and giving another go. For my marriage, my children and my career, this is one skill I’ll need to pick up quickly.
Then again, I’m bound to mess up sometime…