There is a conference that is put on every year called the TED conference (for Technology Entertainment and Design). This is an invitation only conference for only the best minds in the country. The best scientists, designers, and activists as well as quality artists, static and performing. These are the most creative minds in America giving lectures to each other about their craft or simply whatever they think is important. The motto of the conference is “Ideas worth sharing.” So it is no surprise that the lectures are often about creativity itself. How to get it, how to use it, or just how wonderful it is to have it.
What I find most interesting, however, are the lectures about the importance of fostering Creativity in our children, both in the classroom and out. Here are three lectures which I think truly speak to the importance of creativity. The first is “5 dangerous things you should let your kids do.” It is about the simple things that we used to do as kids, or at least when I was a kid, that may be a little dangerous but that teach kids many important things about the world around them. The speaker, Gever Tully, warns that by not allowing our kids to do these things we are depriving them not only of the learning but we are, in the end, are making them less safe because they do not learn how to be safe with dangerous things when they do encounter them. You can even download a comic about a summer camp called The Tinkering School, where Tully teaches kids to build things that they dream up.
The second lecture is the best. Ken Robinson is hilarious. His talk, “Do schools kill creativity?” is full of humor but addresses a serious issue. By overemphasizing only the few subjects that turn our children into good workers for businesses we are killing their creativity. Then, just because they don’t all fit that one highly restrictive mold we are labeling more and more of our children as ADHD. Think about it, we would rather label children as diseased than simply change the way we teach them.
The last talk is simply about the importance of creativity in our lives. Author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk “A different way to think about creative genius,” discusses the ways in which we treat creative workers differently. Interestingly, the issue of de-emphasizing creativity in our children – because of the perception that they could never get a job actually using their imagination – comes up in this talk as well.
If you don’t know about TED then you should take a look. Each lecture is about 18 minutes. They cover topics from environmentalism to new technology to the arts and the talks are given by the very people doing the work. These lectures would be great to use in a classroom or you can just watch them for personal inspiration as I do.