The murder of creativity

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On the first day of the classes at Antwerp Management School, I, like all the others, was extremely enthusiastic and looking forward to the start of the best year of our lives, as promised. And how about starting this academic year with a course taught by the man himself, Jamie Anderson!

Super excited, we went to the class and the first thing right after the introduction was a blank paper given to us and we were asked to START DRAWING. A little confused, naturally, we all were still unmoved, waiting for instructions on what exactly, were we expected to draw, when suddenly the stress of time limitation was thrown on us, upon which we all had to act and come up with something. We all ended up with completely random stuff, as random as one can imagine. While some were asking the others and deciding on what to draw, the others just copied whatever the neighbor had sketched. And a few were even ashamed of showing their drawings to the others.

But this small exercise helped us realize, how our brains have started to function. Over the period of time, our brains have lost the originality/creativity and have been trained by our educational system, to TAKE ORDERS!

We are so dependent on instructions to perform any kind of tasks, because we are afraid to deviate from this path and that’s what our schools have done to us. The biggest irony is that, The worst thing that you can do in this educational system is, to make mistakes. And that’s what restricts and disables our capability of being creative.

Our definition of Success is also driven by the expectations of others, and with the pressure of the environment and of not making a mistake, we tend to stick to the guided paths given and taught to us. And try not to risk thinking out of the box because again, The Biggest Mistake Is A Mistake.

Now, imagine the same exercise given to a kid of 6. He would be more than happy just to find a paper and a pencil to draw whatever has been fascinating him lately, without caring if the thing he draws is of any interest to the others. Without considering if his drawing is up to the level of expectations of the people around him. Without being afraid of being wrong or mistaken in understanding the task. He will perform it as he likes and wills to, and THAT IS ORIGINAL, that is creative!

But what happens to this kid during his years spent at the school? Our educational systems were designed to meet the needs of industrialism and we are trained to fit into their system. The job of these educational systems is to create replicas that strictly follow the guided path given to them where if you deviate from the path, it is a mistake, a fault! and hence the creativity is MURDERED! And if you do not agree with this system and you fight to continue staying original and creative, what does the system do? IT FAILS YOU.

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Source picture: https://adelomar1.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/follow-the-leader.gif

As Sir Ken Robinson in his famous TED Talk ‘Do schools kill creativity?’ said:

“Academic ability has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at, at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.”

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Source picture: https://alyssiakajati.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/education-system.png

The structure of our system and the criteria of selection are indeed designed in a way as sad as the picture reveals. And that is what happens when the fish thinks it’s a fool just because it couldn’t climb that tree. These young kids are forced to study, work and learn out of their natural capabilities and out of their areas of interest and therefore, inevitably, with the lack of interest and natural enthusiasm, the factor of creativity is unable to play its part and as it is said, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it.’ and here is exactly WHY, by the end of our school, our level of creativity drops to such a low level, where it is no more able to have an impact.

All this, and much more, was realized and learned only after spending some time at the AMS, seeing how the system here respects the opinion and the ideas of an individual. A system that taught us that there’s no unique solution to a problem, and the best way to go about it is the way YOU prefer, which was aided by the self-reflection and many other exercises from the Leadership and Career Development Track.

Though the course Creative Thinking covered a lot more than this, but it was impossible to be covered in a single blog. Therefore I chose the part of it that had the biggest impact on me personally, and thought of sharing it!

Ending with a hope that someday, someone, somewhere in the world will step up and not just modify, in fact restructure the whole current educational system and introduce a system that maintains a good balance between both knowledge and creativity and enables the students to be able to fit within the current system but at the same time, make the most of his natural talents and capabilities.

Have a great year ahead amigos!

– Mohammad Osama Nasir –

 

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