I believe we are born as bundles of creativity. We are born with the full potentiality to create and recreate ourselves however we choose. Every child is born an artist, exhibiting their artistic finesse through finger-painting, drawings and play dough models. Children are born musician and dancers – singing and moving – using their bodies to express themselves, and as a tool to maneuver their way through this new world. Children are born actors, they instinctively know which roles to play and when to play them, and they love to dress up, play house, play space ship, and create other wonderful and whimsical scenarios. Children are mathematicians and scientists, they explore and seek solutions. Their whole world is a giant science experiment and they don’t care if it gets messy. They follow the scientific method; they repeat experiments until they get proven results, and then they draw their conclusions. As you can see, creativity is not something that needs to be taught, creativity is something that must be nurtured.
So, what are the options available in our community for our creativity to be nurtured? Well, there aren’t many, and our education system certainly isn’t one of them.
What happens to our creativity as we grow up? We are educated out of it. We accumulate degrees, awards and certificates and display them proudly in our homes, and discuss them while we drink coffee with old friends from the past.
Now you have a PhD – a piece of paper to prove that you are worthy to sit behind a desk with your name on it.
But a PhD doesn’t mean inner peace. And a PhD doesn’t necessarily guarantee you are making a positive impact on the world and yourself.
This is not to devalue the importance of academic success and the pursuit of intellect – but it is to raise the question that should our institutionalized claim to intellectual fame be the only exclusive indicator of a life well lived, and a creative soul well nurtured? Hell to the no.
The children we are educating as a community today are the children that will be creating the life of the future. With so many transitions and crises, and the incessant and necessary building and rebuilding of our social, economic and environmental structures, we as a planet can barely predict how the world is going to be in 5 or 10 years. If we can’t predict how our world is going to be, how can we attempt to appropriately educate our children for it?
We have fallen in love with the institution of education itself. We are so concerned with the institution itself that we have become institutionalized. We lose sight of what is really important. What is important is who you are when you leave school. Harold Shipman graduated Medical school. He passed all his exams. He was a doctor and simultaneously also one of the most prolific serial killers ever. The question is who are you and are you okay with it? That is the fundamental question – not what you are, or what you do or how well you can do it. But who are you and are you happy in your skin? Are you making a positive impact in your life, the life of others, and in the planet? Are you contributing to your own joy allowing that to spill into the world around you? I believe that these three things must coexist in order to give people a fulfilled sense of inner peace.
So what is creativity and how do I get me some of that? Creativity is the ability to think outside the box, to always ask questions and generate new ideas. It is the ability to see many different solutions. Creativity is an attribute of all geniuses, innovators and successful world leaders. There is just something about them that makes them “brighter” than the others. I always wondered what this quality was. What makes these people so different from you and I? And I realized it isn’t their ability to do mental math quickly in their head, or to write best selling books – it is their ability to generate ideas and a new way of doing things. Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Now that’s something comin’ from a genius who completely revolutionized physics as we know it today. And how did he do that? With a “thought experiment”. He imagined how reality would shift and adapt if he was traveling at the speed of a ray of light. Come on. How many times have you imagined what it would be like to travel at the speed of a light ray? Probably not that much. And in his time, this was completely unheard of. His initial research was widely discredited, and he even struggled to find a job as a high school physics tutor. It took years for the world to “catch up”, and when they did, our understanding the cosmos changed. If Einstein can understand it, then so can we; creativity is more important than anything. This is what we must nurture in our children and in ourselves.
Only through creativity is there opportunity for growth in any and every facet of your life, from academic pursuit to personal relationships. And only through growth do we have chance to experience moments of peace and clarity.
What we need to cultivate is a love of learning and discovering – not a love of school. This is a love of creativity. And this means not being afraid of being wrong. I’m not saying that being wrong is synonymous to being creative- but I am saying that being creative means always facing the possibility of being wrong.
No one likes to be wrong in the standard educational experience. We get the grades or we don’t get the grades and we are wrong. We suck. Now, I can be objective because I am a student and I am a student who gets the grades (or at least tries to 100% of the time!) – and that has always been a priority to me. Because of this I am able to recognize that there are other ways to do things. Even though I like and will cultivate whatever habit I need to have in order to enjoy good grades, I feel sad at my lack of true creativity, when I am around people I admire, and I see that I really got nothin’ on them because I am just not used to thinking with my soul.
Anyone can be a doctor. You just have to pass the tests. But what does it take to really excel? To be an excellent doctor? It takes creativity and dedication. It means doing research, and always being on the brink of new medical discoveries and evolution, and sharing your ideas. That shit ain’t easy!
We don’t need doctors. We need healers.
We don’t need teachers. We need masters.
We don’t need students. We need explorers.
We don’t need fanatics. We need open mindedness.
We don’t even need the answers, we just need people who are always asking questions. These are the people who are moving our world forwards, and I want to be one of them.
This is the natural evolution of our community now. This is what we need. For us to turn into the healers, the masters, the explorers and the lovers – is going to take some work for us to level up. To extend beyond what we have been taught and made to believe all our lives.
What we need is every person in this world to be doing exactly what they need to be doing for the world to come to some happy equilibrium – instead of forcing people into other people’s moulds of “success” and what it is. At the end of the day, success is doing something you like to do, liking the way you do it and liking yourself. Success is living your life your own way.
We all have a special talent and we must find a way to share that with the world. That is our dharma – our duty in our life – to simply find a way to express yourself, to find your joy and to allow that joy to spill into the lives of others. Nothing will bring more joy to you than to share, serve, and surrender.
What I hope for our education system is personalized learning, and the end of the hierarchy of classes which dictates that math and science are first and foremost, followed by humanities and only then, at the bottom of the food chain- the arts. Who made that shit up? Seriously? We need the scientists just as much as we need the actors and actresses. We need the doctors just as much as we need the poets and authors.
At the end of the day, do we want our children to excel as students, or as people? Our responsibility as parents is to give our children an environment where educating yourself is easy and natural and fun.
A final point to add (as it seems this novel of a blog post is not quite long enough ;)) is a small little lesson I’ve learned this last year – and this is that I tend to become very suspicious of myself when I find that I have a strong opinion on anything, from the war, to the AIDS epidemic, to dinosaurs, to religion. The stronger my opinion, the less convinced I am.
The world would be a different place if we spent less time worrying about what is “right” and “wrong”, what is “good” and “bad”, what is “true” and “false”, how you should or shouldn’t react, what should or shouldn’t happen to you, and instead just look at what the world needs, to finally come alive, and give everything you have.
I would say the world would be a “better” place, but then again, I wouldn’t want to put a label on it 😉