The man who changed my life, without knowing who I am

How one man’s 20 minute TED talk changed my way of thinking forever.

You may not have heard of Sir Ken Robinson but more importantly, if you haven’t seen his renowned TED talks, you need to.

Sir Ken Robinson is an educationalist. He has strived his whole working life to bring about education reform; first in the UK and now throughout the USA. His goal is to allow the creative arts to hold a space as highly regarded as the other, more mainstream, educational fields.

In his first TED talk, Ken spoke about the reversing the perceived significance in modern, western education where sciences, languages, and maths are considered of higher importance than the creative arts. His premise is that “creativity is as important as literacy”.

Before you raise your pitchfork and start shouting; let me just say that no one is disputing the importance of understanding that 10 + 10 = 20.

“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”

~ Albert Einstein

Growing up I had a very hard time learning by conventional methods. My patient mother took me to see every educationalist she could find. I did coordination exercises, focusing exercises and anything else you can imagine.

But despite all the effort and expertise that was dumped on me, nothing helped. Still, at the age of 11, I couldn’t read even a simple book for myself.

Finally, we were pointed towards a woman down in Brisbane (a city some 1700km away) who specialised on working with dyslexic kids. Suddenly it clicked. I was, what she called, a “picture thinker”. This made a lot of sense, I had always thought in pictures; seeing in pictures whatever was explained to me, with the words never featuring in my brain. I had a hard time spelling because when hearing the word ‘horse’ I simply pictured a horse. Letters didn’t even feature in my brain chemistry.

The following years weren’t easy, and at times they were downright frustrating. But as time passed I learned more and more about creativity in real world education, that is, the type of learning that happens outside of a classroom.

For me, it is more important to be creative than to spell correctly. Spelling is an important part of life, but being creative is what makes me come alive.

Ken Robinson made me realise I wasn’t defective, but lucky. I had had such a hard time learning by normal means that I was forced into a position where my creativity flourished.

So why is teaching and nurturing creativity so important? Creative education helps people think outside the box and, after all:

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking.”

~ Albert Einstein


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