Why Should I Take Responsibility For My Own Creativity? Because No One Else Is Going To, That’s Why!
As I sit at my desk in a writing retreat in Portugal, slightly shielded from the world, I do wonder what the world of work is going to be like 50 years from now. It does seem employment trends are changing at an extraordinary rate; unemployment amongst the young is high, especially in Europe and we face an uncertain economic outlook. If so many of our young people are struggling to find work, what is the solution and what does this fact say about the society in which we are now living?
In the UK, for example kids have been tested into oblivion, have had politicians tinkering round the edges of educational provision and now there are plans to scrap certain general certificate qualifications to provide the opportunity for more academically able to excel. Fantastic; for me there is nothing more exciting or desirable than the pursuit of academic excellence. But I can’t help feeling the government is going to lash up a great opportunity once again. There’s a part of me who has always purported that schools should be closed and then re-opened as something completely different! It will never happen but it was a great fantasy and when I worked in them I did dig many tunnels!
Unfortunately, certainly in the UK are still partly trapped by the old grammar school model. It was great in one sense as it gave many students who did not hail from privileged backgrounds the opportunity to aim high and many students d and went on to make their mark. Yet, having been an ex grammar school girl myself did staff ever know how to deal with the creative, left-fielders within their midst? Yes you could do art and if drawing gooseberries or bits of dead ivy meant you got into art college then they did a good job and we got to spend 40 minutes a week copying poetry from one book to another – radical huh?
Well, here’s my point: the failure to educate creatively is probably one of the greatest missed opportunities for society and until those in charge start to listen, re-evaluate, re-position, re-vise re-everything, then students (of whatever age) are not going to thrive, neither is the economy and we are potentially doomed to live a half-life.
There, I have said it now. Throughout my teaching career I asked ‘why?’ not ‘what?’ I wanted to teach skills, curiosity, risk-taking, excitement, questioning, creativity. For me it’s not enough to accept unthinkingly, life should be about challenge, development, expression, journeys and art in its broadest sense. Being an individual, bringing an independent perspective, collaborating, exploring are what education lacks. If educators insist on closed questions the answers will be exactly the same, painted with a restricted number of colours.
It’s so easy to kill creativity. We have been guilty of teaching kids how to think as people have always thought, how wonderful that the internet totally undermines this concept. Kids have been encouraged to focus, to exclude spurious links or ideas or influences. Pity then, kids are so good at multitasking these days! We can’t always work on improving what exists we need to be encouraged to see what doesn’t, what might be. After all if it was good enough in the past it will be good enough for the future – just like our current financial model.
The key to a more satisfying future is to occupy your comfort zone, refuse to take risks, avoid surprises and most of all, whatever you do, never make a mistake. After all it all uses up energy and why would you do that? Key to it all is: ‘ know your limitations, boundaries, territories, expectations whatever, keep it small, know your place!
I would hate to see people try anything new, stick with what you know, why disrupt the status quo (who never needed more than one chord anyway) Evidence, evidence, evidence. I’m not booking a writing retreat unless the last Nobel Prize winner studied there, I’m not going to take a risk and spend a week writing, what if I can’t it will be a waste of time and money; why be creative anyway, what good will it ever do anyone? I can’t take responsibility for my own creative development, if it happens it happens and if it doesn’t it means I didn’t deserve it anyhow.
The mantra we should all carry with us is: There is Only One Answer. Yay!!! How neat is that! To think I have been wasting my time for all these years looking for alternatives! I can avoid taking action and everything will be fine.
Cynical? Me? Well, read what Will Hutton had to say earlier this year in the UK newspaper The Guardian:
‘First, we are living in a period of extreme uncertainty – business model uncertainty, technological uncertainty, political uncertainty. There is enormous pressure to have a workforce that you can reshape … to meet unknown conditions. This means more insecurity at work for the ordinary worker.’
Indeed, so what are we going to do about that? How can we meet this uncertainty, these unknown conditions? By being creative in any way we can is how. So, there is less demand for unskilled male workers, so what do we do, write them off? Governments aren’t going to solve this, so it’s down to us to make a few changes. It’s not about going on a creative retreat, although lots of people do and experience many benefits, it’s about being open minded enough to listen to our inner voices, to trust intuition over concrete evidence, to have confidence in what make us human beings; we are here to create and that’s what we have to do.
Right, I put my head above the parapet and I am now going back to work.Tags: writing retreat