Creatively Wrong

This post was inspired by Sir Ken Robinson's conference at the 2007 TED Talks.

I was on my way home a couple of days ago, riding a half-full bus near a mother with her (I'm guessing) less-than-a-year-old daughter. Sitting beside them was a man in his early thirties. The child was given a piece of paper to play with and dropped it. The man picked it up and handed it to the child. The child at first was suspicious. She looked back at her mum who smiled acceptedly, and grabbed the piece of paper back. Then, the kid surprised me when she dropped it again, but this time to experiment if the man would do it again; he did. This was the game the lad played all the way to my bus stop. That's all she needed: a piece of paper, and somebody to pick it up.

I remember when I was a kid and the teachers made us work in the classroom. Not to brag, but I regularly finished working before almost everybody, partly because I liked to play with my pencils and erasers afterwards. I imagined that they were spaceships, or cars in a race, or martial arts experts, or super-powered humans with awesome abilities like flying or laser-beam controlled rockets that were shot from their arms. Other than when I was working, I don't remember a moment in which I imagined they were actually pencils and erasers.

I miss that sensation of living in my head, of not caring to do wrong. I've always wondered what happened to it. Hearing Sir Robinson made me realise where it went: the teachers took it away from me. Not the actual persons, mind you, but the academic process. It's a bottleneck of sorts. The persons that are good at math get good grades and are expected to excel in life, whilst the artistic types are left behind to fend for themselves. Sir Robinson's right, the current school model aims to form academic professors, which are built to keep the model alive. By its own definition, no creative process to improve the model is allowed.

Kids are born without the adult's reservation of doing something out of precaution of getting it wrong; frankly, they couldn't care less. In fact, many of the kids I remember talking to when I was a teenager even craved being shown wrong. Is as if they knew insticintively that "if you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original" (Sir Ken Robinson). Their questions drowned my senses when, knowing they can do anything they wanted, wanted to know everything about everything.

Do the following experiment: walk into a kinder-garden classroom and ask the kids there if anybody knows how to dance, sing, or paint. Everybody will say that they know how to. Now try to do the same in a college classroom...

It's like the academic model is built to suck the creativity out of us, producing future parents that will suck even more creativity out of their children, turning all of this into a spiral of numbness and unidirectional boredom. To think I picked up a guitar until the age of sixteen, to think I knew how to create a whole universe from a stain of ink, to think... to imagine.

I guess this is my objective for the next year: to crave moments of imagination, to not care of my wrongdoing, and to believe, wholeheartedly, that I can do anything. To be a child again and, in the purest sense, have fun.

How ironic that now, after all this time of seeing and knowing and experiencing life, it sounds like probably the hardest thing I'll ever do.

A six-year-old little girl, who hardly ever paid attention, was in her drawing lesson. This time, however, she was deeply concentrated in her work. The teacher, surprised by her conviction, came close to the child and asked, "What are you drawing?" "I'm drawing a picture of God", the little girl replied. The teacher, puzzled, exclaimed back, "But nobody knows what God looks like!" The little girl, with that cute smile prevalent during that age, answered, "They will in a minute."


Carmen said...

I love you =*

1000 days a day said...

cool post. i'm trying to break free from all these do's and dont's that i was taught while growing up. even though i thought i lived freely, i realized i was always trying to please the people around me, trying to abide by social norms. it is a slow process, but hopefully i will one day say what i think, and do what i want.

if you're not already familiar with freuds' ego, superego, and id, i suggest you look it up.