Monday, November 12, 2012

Thoughts on creativity and other things...

   I watched a talk by Ken Robinson on “Schools Kill Creativity” and I completely agree with him. Instead of posting artwork this time I thought I’d share what I learned.

Here's a link if you want to watch it as well:

 The Process of Struggle and Creativity

 Kids have tremendous talents and we as adults tend to squander them. Kids take chances and are not frightened of being wrong. However, as kids grow up they start to become afraid of being wrong and therefore they kill their creativity and hurt their process of learning. In our education system we have taught kids that mistakes are the worst things you can make.    

 This morning I listened to an NPR report about the learning system in schools. They did an interview on a school in China. The reporter said that he watched as a teacher taught her students how to draw a cube. Many of the students understood it and were doing it correctly, however there was one little boy who was struggling. Instead of picking the best student’s work to show the class as an example, the teacher took the student who was struggling and had him rework the cube in front of the class. The teacher would ask the class if the student did it right and if he didn’t he had to continue to rework it until it was correct. Eventually after much struggle the boy drew the cube correctly and the class broke into cheers and congratulated their fellow student. Now you would think that the boy would be embarrassed, brake into tears and give up (which is probably what I would have done). Instead it made him feel great that he accomplished a difficult task.

  So what is the difference between the Eastern and Western school systems? The Eastern school system uses struggle and mistakes as a tool of learning and they accept and welcome struggle. They understand that struggle and mistakes are part of achieving goals and accomplishments in the end. In our society we become impatient and embarrass those who tend to struggle and make mistakes and then glorify those who accomplish the task perfectly. I know this because I was that kid especially when it came to math.  

 We all must struggle through the learning process in order to learn and accomplish the task at hand. If you haven’t experienced this try creating something.

  In art you must be willing to make many, many mistakes and be critiqued before your piece of art can be successful and completed. In my Illustration class I was working on a portrait of Audrey Hepburn and for whatever reason no matter how many times I reworked it the painting didn’t look right. I even woke up at 1:30am one morning and reworked the painting about 4 times and it still didn’t turn out. Today I am still in the process of fixing and perfecting it. So I am I wasting my time making mistakes? No. In fact that’s where I learn. My mistakes build my technique and help me become a better artist. After Thomas Edison failed 2,000 times to make the first light bulb he said, "I didn't fail; I found out 2,000 ways how not to make a light bulb.” Mistakes make us into better people once we learn and grow from them.

 Art in our Education System and in Society

 According to Ken Robinson there is a hierarchy in our education system. Math and science seem to be at the top of the list and the arts and humanities tend to be towards the bottom. School systems tend to focus on one side of the brain and don’t encourage creativity this way. In fact it kills creativity and as a result the arts in public schools are depreciating.

 As an art major I completely see this. Often time’s people who are majoring in business, the medical or science fields are more admired and considered accomplished. These majors tend to be more popular and respected due to the security of their future job and paycheck. This may be, but what about those who are majoring in the arts? Why is it that some think that those who are majoring in the arts do not have a secure nor successful future? It’s because many believe that jobs in the art field are either hard to come by or are not paid well.

  Often times when people find out what I am majoring in they will ask, “what are you going to do with that?” It’s a logical question due to the fact that the arts don’t have a specific job field, unlike other majors, such as accounting, who do have a specific job field. But when asked the question “what are you going to do with that?” sometimes it sounds like, “How are you going to make a living doing that?” It seems as though some people doubt your ability to find work and make a living in a competitive field.

 We as a society have developed this mindset that if you are not making a certain amount with your job then you are not successful. We have made our paycheck and image as a sign of how successful we are. This mindset has existed since the colonial era. If you don’t believe me look at early American art.

 Americans were completely focused on class, wealth and reputation. In paintings people were represented in their finest clothing and even had custom made furniture just for their portrait sittings. People used objects in their portraits to represent their class, reputation, wealth and the things they have accomplished. The successful American image was important to them. Today this American mindset of wealth and class still hasn’t changed in some ways.

 In conclusion I am not trying to disrespect people who want a large paycheck, who are majoring in business or the medical field, or who just want security for their future. I am only pointing out the facts about our society and how money has become our priority, and as a result the arts and jobs in the art field are becoming less admired.

Thanks for taking the time to read.




(art works: top- "General George Washington before Princeton" by Charles Peals. Bottom-"Mrs. Thomas Boylston" by John Singelton Copley)

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