Sir Ken Robinson and Creativity

I love TED talks. The first one I saw was Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir, and it was amazing…and suddenly I’m realizing that a whole bunch of the really amazing people whose work I follow have also given them…

And then there’s when you find one by complete accident. I saw this one: Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity. I automatically rolled my eyes and went, okay, dude, here we go, this is going to be silly, let’s click on it and see what a yahoo this guy is…

I now have holds on his books at my public library. AWESOME stuff, hyperbolic headline aside. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole talk, at least go over to the interactive transcript and skim it. (If you’re like me, you’ll then go back and listen, which I recommend, because he’s also very funny and his timing and delivery are quite good.)

It’s a big problem, the one of education and art and happiness and finding our way in the world. I’m married to one of those brilliant and creative but academically non-successful people he refers to in his talk, and it’s taken decades for him to find something that makes him happy, to find his own place where he can create. (He creates lines of computer code, which I don’t get at all, but then again he wouldn’t be much of a conductor.) And even in academia, creative artsy academia, the focus seems to be very much on pinning our arts to the wall like specimens and finding ways to treat them which the Hard Scientists would find acceptable. In the arts, in any creative endeavor, there will always be what I call The Thing Under The Sheet, something you know is there because you share space with it, but which you can’t see or communicate with directly, something you can’t name, something to which you do not have active access at any time…and yet it is always there, and it is alive, and it is part of what is going on in the room. And I think we are scared of it. We resist it, because we want to Know. But as we catalog and analyze the room, all we can say about it is “well, there’s something in here under a sheet, and we can’t really say much about it, because we don’t know what it is, and whenever we try to look it sort of wiggles away.” Scholars don’t like that. Scientists don’t like that. Artists, IMO, can (and should) find a way to dance with it anyway.


  • I agree … so wholeheartedly that I bought the book!

    But, speaking of creativity, have you seen the RSAnimate version of Robinson’s talk? If not, here it is:

    If you like it, there are a whole series of these wonderful animated versions of TED talks — brilliant!

    All my best,


  • J.

    I have seen it, and I love it! Awesome stuff.

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