Thursday, July 26, 2018

Book Review: 'Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative' by Ken Robinson

Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative
Ken Robinson
Capstone Publishing Ltd. (2011)
How and why to think differently about learning to be creative
This is a “New Edition, Fully Updated” of a book first published in 2001. Why a second edition? As Ken Robinson explains in his Preface, “…the first reason is that so much has happened since [2000], both in the world and in my [end italics] world…The second reason for this new edition is that I now have more to say about many of the core ideas in the book and what we should do to put them into practice…The third reason is, not only has the world moved on in the last ten years, I have too. Literally.”
Robinson responds to three separate but related questions:
o    Why is it essential to promote creativity?
o    What is the problem?
o    What is involved?
Throughout his lively and eloquent narrative, Robinson develops and explores three separate but interdependent themes: “We are living in times of revolution; If we are to survive and flourish we have to think differently about our own abilities and make the best use of them; and, In order to do so we have to run our organizations and especially our education systems in radically different ways.”
These are among the dozens of passages that caught my eye:
“The evolution of the Internet has been driven not only by innovations in technology but also by unleashing the imaginations and appetites of millions of users, which in turn are driving further innovations in technology.” (Page 41)
“Current systems of education were not designed to meet the challenges we now face. They were developed to meet the needs of a former age. Reform is not enough; they need to be transformed.” (49)
“All truth passes through three stages;
First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
— Arthur Schopenhauer (81)
“When people find their medium, they discover their real creative strengths and come into their own. Helping people to connect with their personal creative capacities is the surest way to release the best they have to offer.” (139)
“Being sensitive to oneself and to others is a vital element in the development of the personal qualities that are now urgently needed, in business, in the community and in personal life. It is through feelings as well as through reason that we find our real creative power. It is through both that we connect with each other and create the complex, shifting worlds of human culture.” (196)
“Creating a culture of innovation will only work if the initiative is ked from the top of the organization. The endorsement and involvement if leaders means everything, if the environment is to change.” (219)
“Creativity is not about a lack of constraints; often it is about working within them and overcoming them. The dynamics of culture are such change travels in all directions. With the power of the Internet and of social networking, ideas and innovations can move quickly and inspire others to action. Sensitive policy makers will feel the change and may even say it was their idea.” (266)
There have been hundreds (thousands?) of books and articles published in recent years that explore one or more aspects of creativity. What differentiates Robinson’s book from all them are the scope and depth of focus on how and why to think differently about learning to be creative in all domains of human experience. While reading and then re-reading this book, I was reminded of Walt Whitman’s assertion in Song of Myself:
“Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)”
As he also does in an earlier book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, Ken Robinson urges those who read his latest book to think creatively about who they are (“large”) and how they will explore and develop all dimensions of their humanity (“multitudes”). Moreover, especially to those with direct and frequent contact with children, he affirms the importance of helping others to do so. May reason guide and passion drive these noble initiatives.

Editor's note: This review was written by Robert Morris and has been published with his permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right. 

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