#creativeconversation, Edinburgh, 16 May 2012

I was going to be contributing some input to this evening’s Edinburgh #creativeconversation but had to attend a meeting London at short notice.

In anticipation of not being able to attend I sent my fellow contributor @olliebray a letter with some initial thought on creativity in general and the implications for Scottish education.

13 May 2012

Dear Ollie,

Edinburgh Creative Conversation, 16 May

Once again my apologies for leaving you in the lurch to do the Edinburgh Creative Conversation on you own. As discussed I got a late call to help a couple of inventor friends of mine to pitch a new technology in London and will probably still be queuing somewhere in Heathrow when you are wining, dining and conversing in Edinburgh.

I was looking forward to Tuesday and think the concept behind these events is inspiring, so I’m really disappointed that I can’t be with you.

I was going to make a video covering the points I would have made but thought a letter would be less obtrusive and save you the hassle of carrying that big screen on the bus again. [Free consultancy: The real knack to getting the most out of any technology is knowing when not to use it ;)]

My input would have started with the following observations and related questions for discussion.

#1 Don’t conflate creativity with ‘the arts’

In my opinion much of what comes from ‘the arts’ is little more than a rehash of other peoples stuff without any originality or ambition. Not to mention it is often trivial, mind-numbing and completely unchallenging.

The world of science and technology often shows much more creativity than that of the arts. Discuss

#2 Think creative mindset rather than creative people

People are multi-dimensional and may be highly creative in some aspects of their lives and entirely conventional in others.

I think we can all be more creative, learn how to apply our imagination to solve problems and make the world a better place. All the better if we have opportunities to collaborate with and learn from others who are also on this journey.

The concept of ‘the creative person’ suggests that creativity is some fixed or inherent characteristic that you are either lucky to have or unlucky not to have. Is this a helpful concept or do you think creativity can be taught and caught?

#3 Creativity is as much perspiration as inspiration

In my experience the people who demonstrate the most creativity have worked hard over many years to get to the point where they have the skill and wisdom to invent something new in whatever field of activity that they are passionate about.  They also tend to be good at connecting insights across their lives rather than being stuck in a single domain. It is this grounding that allows them to see how the world might be different and deploy their skills to do something rather than just dream about it.

What is the relationship between hard work (Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours) and being creative?

#4 Creativity and Education

It used to be that a good Scottish education (often represented by a handful of qualifications) was an inoculation against poverty.

Today the world is changing more rapidly than at any other time in human history and it is unlikely that a traditional Scottish education will be a sufficient condition for success in life.

We are still locked into subject-based silos, especially in our secondary schools. We still value compliance to education industry standards over genuine innovation in learning. We continue to distort school education by prioritising summative tests and qualifications over formative assessment and deep learning. Discuss.

Hope this is helpful for Tuesday’s conversation and that the event gives people some food for thought.

See you soon.

Yours

Laurie

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