• By Kevin Mount
  • Posted on Friday 18th July, 2008

A problem Picasso recognized but never knew

“All children are artists;” Pablo Picasso famously proclaimed, “the problem is how to remain an artist when you grow up.” Picasso is long gone and his variety of genius may have faded with him, but UK education consultant Sir Kenneth Robinson travels the world keeping his artistic sentiment and the underlying principle alive. He did so most notably at the 2006 “TED” conference. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and started out in 1984 giving a platform to people from those three worlds. Now the annual conference assembles “thinkers and doers” who are challenged to give the TEDtalk of their lives in 18 minutes. TED began posting these 18-minute treatises online a few years ago. And recently, Robinson’s won the distinction of being one of ten most-viewed speeches on the TED website. Creativity is as important as literacy, he argues. The world is changing so quickly – due to shifts in demography and advances in technology - that it is impossible to predict the type of world in which our children will live as adults. Our education system is charged with preparing our offspring for this unknown world, but most schools are geared up only to meet the needs of the industrial societies of the past. Standard curricula focus on math and literacy (skills needed in industrial economies) when it is the creativity and interdisciplinary thinking fostered by the arts that will allow future leaders to flourish in a quickly metamorphosing world.The clear implication must be that to treat academic attainment in math or languages as an indicator of healthy child development may be to compound a chronic and increasingly dangerous error.Robinson, who was knighted in 2003, led the British government's 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, a major inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy. The report stimulated a wide range of educational innovations across the UK, including the national program, Creative Partnerships. He also worked on a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland.• Summary of “Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?” February 2006 TED conference.

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