Creativity is Remembered, Not Learned

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”    -Sir Ken Robinson

The world lost a remarkable leader in the pursuit of learning and creativity on August 21, 2020. Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED talk posed the question, ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ With close to 70 million views, this idea has resonated with viewers. For me, ‘getting back to creativity’ was my introduction to the idea of challenging the status quo. In so doing, this one person presenting on the TED stage, helped open my eyes and change the course of my life. I realized creativity was not something to be learned, but rather to be remembered. I’ve been mining the depths of my memories ever since.

When I think back to being the age my children are now, I remember Robert Fulghum’s advice from ‘All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.’ A sweet set of thoughts which provide guidance in a chaotic world. These guiding principles penned back in 1986 are just as true today as they were back then. In fact, I might argue the world needs to look back at these ideas with a sense of urgency, because we can do better.

All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten – by Robert Fulghum

All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten. ALL I REALLY NEED TO KNOW about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sandpile at Sunday School. These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.

Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.

Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup:
The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.
So do we.

And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.

Take any of those items and extrapolate it into sophisticated adult terms and apply it to your family life or your work or your government or your world and it holds true and clear and firm.

Think what a better world it would be if all – the whole world – had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankies for a nap. Or if all governments had a basic policy to always put things back where they found them and to clean up their own mess.

And it is still true, no matter how old you are – when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

© Robert Fulghum, 1990.
Found in Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten Villard Books: New York, 1990, page 6-7.

Possibly, like Peter Pan who grew up and left Neverland, your creativity seems to have been misplaced. You might need a kickstart to get back into the swing of things. And because you are a grown up and serious adult, you are probably not too keen to rediscover your creativity through play. That might seem a little silly and childish. That’s OK. Because there are loads of courses and books written on the topic of creativity meant to relearn this skill with an eye to career development or building a business. Innovation, (being another word for creativity), is a proper corporate activity for employees to pursue. Have a look at these courses:

Or if you would rather go straight back to basics with the curiosity and creativity you once had as a 5 year old, check out – Exploring Play: The Importance of Play in Everyday Life. And there are many more courses out there, depending on which direction you want to go. Happy learning!

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