Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to Discourage Creativity

There is . . . a dark side to creativity, in that it represents a "quest for a radical autonomy apart from the constraints of social responsibility".  In other words, by encouraging creativity we are encouraging a departure from society's existing norms and values. Expectation of conformity runs contrary to the spirit of creativity. Sir Ken Robinson argues that the current education system is "educating people out of their creativity".
from Wikipedia on the subject
I've seen Sir Ken on TED talks - he quite convinced me, since I could easily make a case that I had the most creativity-discouraging childhood well, probably not ever, probably not in America . . . and probably almost everyone born in 1942 had much that kind of schooling and home. Still, it was harsh. Sad.

But let's not go there.  The fun thing is to think about how being creative is radical, is a form of manning the barricades.  Odd example came to me just now.  I couldn't possibly find the pictures, which are on film in a big box with many other slides and photos, sigh . . . but I had just gotten a new little car, and must have also been in the throes of discovering photography.  For when I left work I got intrigued by the way the snow was piled on the door handle, and began taking pictures of it.  Later my boss and coworker told me they were watching me from the second-story window and laughing.  They couldn't even imagine.  So seeing this somewhat creative act (it wasn't a photo of the family reunion) they saw definite nonconformity.  Their approach was not untypical - they called it crazy and laughed at it.  Not real threatening crazy, but threatening enough to make a point of laughing at it and demeaning me, which would be called "putting you down" as if it is just words, just jokes, and doesn't hurt.

Do you like to be laughed at?

You know what, though?  I think there is not one single person who reads this blog or ever would stumble on this post who does things like that.

You'll be glad to know that not long after that I walked out on that job, though over something worse. Yes, sexual harassment is worse.  But in the same ballpark.

And here's a recent creative photo.  There was more to the sign about no fishing or wading, but this view caught my fancy.


  1. There is one person, however, who, oddly, thinks that this is somehow worse than sexual harassment. Does that sound strange to you? Perhaps a post would suffice as explanation. x P

  2. Love the photo. As a child I was laughed at foolish I was to think I could play the guitar or be an Olympic swimmer. And I don't think they thought it was cruel or stifling in anyway.

  3. Do you know what's interesting: a child before they enter the school system, and then that same child JUST as they're entering the school system, be it play school, daycare, nursery school, or what have you. The little child is so full of their own ideas, and energy and uniqueness until their wildness is tamed and they're forced to conform, and join the circle of the good little children who use their "listening" ears and always do what the teacher tells them.

    There was a part of me that was so disappointed when the kids started to comply--not that I advocate "bad" behaviour, but I liked that magical spark of as yet un-molded youth.

  4. This immediately makes me think of my friend Sherilin, over at her blog "Laughing my abs off". She home-schools her daughter, and she comes up with the best, most creative ways to learn, rather than sticking to every letter of the cobwebby CURRICULUM.

    p.s. what asses those people at your work were/are.