TED Conversations

Karina Eisner


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What place does creativity have in education?

Almost every education related TED video available states or implies that creative thinking is at the center of the learning process and at the root of every breakthrough.
What place do we give creative thinking, free exploration, uncharted discovery in our current educational models?
Are the prevalent public education systems becoming a means to program the masses rather than a way to facilitate discovery, growth and self realization? Are students truly turned into useful citizens, or rather adults trained to respond to induced stimulus in predetermined ways, much like rats in the lab?
Are we afraid of where original thinking can bring us? Are we afraid of change? Are we afraid of losing control? How far are we ready to go to keep it? And do we really think creativity can be killed?


This debate is closed, now what?

….......................................YOU ARE INVITED......................................

WHAT? Stage 2 of this debate, do it!
HOW? Connecting, cooperating, organizing information, sharing our skills, giving ideas, encouraging, writing or blogging, creating a web page, reaching out to our own communities.
WHERE? New TED debate, Creativity in Action
WHEN? Now.

We can overcome geographical, language, age and political barriers. We can make a difference. Let's take the next step. Are you in?


Closing Statement from Karina Eisner

This debate is closed, now what?

….......................................YOU ARE INVITED......................................

WHAT? Stage 2 of this debate, join us!
HOW? Connecting, cooperating, organizing information, sharing our skills,
giving ideas, encouraging, blogging, creating a web page, reaching
out to our own communities.
WHERE? New TED debate, here, Creativity in Action
WHEN? Now.

We can overcome geographical, language, age and political barriers. We can make a difference. Let's take the next step. Are you in?

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    Sep 30 2011: The attitude towards creativity in education as it is in all parts of live is very ambiguous.
    I would love to write an essay on this but my English is too limited to do so.

    Your questions however suggest that there is much to say about this subject.
    Creativity is deadened in children and those that keep their creativity alive are often squeezed out.

    We allow it in artists and admire them for what we love most in ourselves but couldn't bring about.

    Most people live by rules and regulations and well-established structures that give little uncertainty and surprise and all what defies this is neglected or condemned.

    Edited: If we want to stimulate the natural creativity in a child it would be better to listen to the child and to look at every child as an individual. Would Mozart ever have shown its talents if his father was obliged to put his child on one of our schools?
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      Sep 30 2011: You have only NOW, the past is gone, the future in not quite here yet (contrary to what the speed of life might make you think).
      WRITE! Give what you have in your own language, in your own way. You will find a translator at the right time... who knows, maybe even here...
      Just do it today! :-)
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        Oct 9 2011: Part 1

        To preserve creativity in men.

        To be creative one has to be free, free of attachment but focused on a desire to bring it into the light.
        The object is joy from experience and in that living the spirit you are.
        The spirit is our capability to experience anything but to become nothing as would happen if we identify with some formed structure.

        It happens that I can remember myself from early on and relate experiences of the first years of human life. If it can stand as a model for every being only the future can learn by comparing our testimonies.

        Let me by example testify what that experience can be and what it looks like.

        The house where I was born and lived with my parents and 6 brothers and sisters of which I was the youngest had an attic where we, the children slept. Part of that attic was to store old and unused things. There was the gun, helmet and uniform my father had used in war. Also there was an old trunk for the tropics that my uncle had used who had been a missioner in Africa and India, with all his equipment for traveling those countries in the forties and fifties of the last century.

        As I took the white helmet and put this on my head I walked the jungle, if I took instead the flyers cap with glasses, I flew in a two seat airplane and enjoyed flying. I could travel the world with these requisites although being but 3 years or 4 in a period where pictures and television hadn’t arrived yet to our time and place. If later on I saw pictures of those events it was mere a recognition then a view on the unknown.

        If I explored the room of my sisters that were much older many other experiences were to be found. As I took up a lipstick and flew in as I wondered about it, I was a young woman sitting in a high building as I later learned could in that time only be found in places as New York. I walked by night in light open space with much glass thinking about the exquisiteness of makeup things and what could be made better.
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        Oct 9 2011: Part 2

        As I let this item loose and laid myself on bed my spirit flew out of the window and walked over the roof picking out nice stones of the gravel that was on it. Through doing this I was attracted by some desert and walked hours walking the sand searching for special precious things. Just only to forget this all as a sound from downstairs signaled that some brothers had come home from school.

        As I got older I was eager to learn and know all these things, and by this give substance to all these impressions. My mind wanted to get control of the world to navigate and work in it.

        As my brother one morning before school had to learn his history book I saw a drawing in it of some boy clad in animal cloth with a spear what I suspected later to be a picture of a Germanic boy before a house of clay and straw. I was overwhelmed by feelings from that picture that brought back many memories of living such a life. Water, woods, a boat in the marsh, animals in the wild and fire at night, all that flashed my mind for never leaving me again.

        My brother didn’t bother to tell me much when asked and I couldn’t read yet what the text could reveal. How much I wished to go to school then and learn all those secrets. Once I did, it appeared that apart from what names and date’s little was told about those periods of early civilization. Yet my curiosity didn’t vanish and more and more I searched for the secrets of nature and history.

        All my expectations I had before, that school would give the answers to were in vain and all there was instead was a system of drilling and doing stupid things. At first there was the alphabet to learn. Funny how most characters had a special feeling and sometimes even taste. After the first morning at school I ran home in full excitement for one word I mastered already and I would show this and with it how happy I was.
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        Oct 9 2011: Part 3

        Alas little response and sadly this was the start of much disappointments. Maybe I wasn’t an average kid and in-between I’ve raised kids myself and the story is always different but all the same in one thing: children are seen as children like dogs and cats although everyone that has a dog or cat knows that they are individuals. Children are individuals and need to be treated as such. What good is for one isn’t good for another or not yet for that moment. They need to explore their world and hold this with their minds. They must be given opportunities for exploration in the world together and alone.

        Of course they need tools and crafts, they need to read and write, count and figure but this would be so much more easy as they wanted to learn this badly. A Greek wise-guy of old said once: “To teach isn’t like filling a bucket but as to kindle a fire”. And they need apart from love due respect. They may be little and lack some knowledge from what we think important but they need to be heard and reckoned with. This cry was the message some girl from heaven stressed as she spoke through a friend of mine and mediator. For life on this planet is just a little sojourn for the spirit we are.

        A lot has changed since I went to that school and some things for the better yet most is rather cosmetic than fundamental. And of course the factories needed people that could function in a disciplined way and could take orders and execute those fast and free of error. Obedience to authorities had to streamline the organization to get the most out in productivity and quality. People that were conditioned that way could be as effective in the hands of a lunatic dictator like Hitler as it could serve Ford or Volkswagen to export their cars all over the world.
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        Oct 9 2011: Part 4

        With a grower number of exceptions these are the people that need to teach the young generation and govern the policies by which our schools have to operate. They can’t be turned around to see what’s missing as they didn’t become aware to miss it in themselves. Alternative systems were allowed in the Netherlands and abroad as the Anthroposophist school of Rudolf Steiner, the Jenaplan, Dalton schools, Montessori which had good things and some flaws but didn’t make it to become a general model because at first most parents are suspicious for what is less normal and also many employers do take the same stand.

        Educating children without breaking their spirit to become the ultimate expression of their being is ever more necessary in a world that has become as small as today’s, which is about to be populated over the edge and gives access to all kinds of powers that can be used in negative as positive ways, better to say in constructive and destructive ways. If children could be left intact they would be creative, peaceful, curious, compassionate, helpful and altruistic. They could build a society of old in a new fashion where nature is partly replaced by technology.

        A society of cooperation as of old as I mean that not long for now an Indian tribe was discovered that appeared to have in their language no one word to replace the word “I”, or me, or mine. Maybe you say, can you speak of creativity as there is no sense of I as is our habit? I can confirm this because how much more creativity can there be as with people that has a maximum in cooperation and are all free spirits which means that they can know everything and bring it to mind to act upon this with their united force to bring it about to our world to benefit all.
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        Oct 9 2011: Part 5

        Many things stand in the way of this utopia and that’s all old conditioning, opinions from old believes whether they are religious or scientific or political. But we can try to stress the need to make small changes for the better. Changes in teachers and pupils, in parents and governments, in justice and behavior but foremost to live our ideal and be the change we hold precious.
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          Oct 10 2011: Wow, Frans. Let me digest all this today.

          You've work hard, and brought up many, many points. It is obvious that his issue is very dear to your heart! Thanks for letting us know your views.
    • Oct 9 2011: Creativity is our default setting. I see it in the poorest slum areas of Cairo, where children use scraps to make games, or adults build shelters from scrap. creativity can break your heart, When you see a child in Famine hit Somalia pick seeds out of animal droppings. Is creativity the same as survival? maybe we need it to survive. Our modern schools, full of rubrics, benchmarks and guidelines have lost sight of what education is all about. I thought it was to prepare us for the world and allow us to be all that we could be... oh no! is that the US Army's slogan..... I get confused, arent schools and armies becoming more and more similar to eachother?Where is the chance of having an ah..ha moment, or the pleasure of just thinking out aloud. We need a serious educational earthquake to undo the current iceage which is working so hard to stifle the natural desire to create and develop.
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        Oct 10 2011: Amira, I think you just destilled the question to the core, to the bare essence! Education did certainly do a good job with you. Where did you grow up?

        Here are the main points you make:

        * Creativity is our default setting.
        * We need it to survive
        * Education should prepare us for the world and allow us to be all that we could be
        * Today education stifles the natural desire to create and develop.
        * There is not enough time given to process information
        * Schools look more and more like... the army
        • Oct 10 2011: Thank you for your comments, What good you might find in my comment comes from my dear father who always had and still does have faith in my skills and talents, I hope I have not disappointed him.
          I was raised and educated in many places, East, West and Middle East. I am passionate about creating the right place, soil, temperature and energy for each child to flower and blossom. However, it seems that educational sems are standing in the way of my dream and the dream of many others like myself.
        • Oct 12 2011: Hi, Karina, I'd like to make a few more points. I 've been following a lot of what has been said and it strikes me that much is theoretical. While think tanks and brainstorming are the essential elements for problem solving, they can lead to highly abstract situations. I say this because of a particular situation I am experiencing at the moment. I come from Egypt, live in Cairo and am part of the Jan 25 revolution. As a nation, we are now burdened by discussions regarding our future, form of goverment, possible pitfalls, etc. We have yet to find strong voices describing "how-to "practical solutions for some of the endless problems we inherited from the fallen dictatiorship. The need for creativity here is paramount, and the capacity to be creative seems scarce. Sadly, the educational and cultural atmosphere of the past 60 years did exactly what Sir Ken Robinson was talking about; strip mined our minds. So, as you can understand, I am passionate about the subject, see, feel and believe in the catastrophe we find ourselves in when the hallmark of humanity;creativity, is ripped out of our very souls.

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