On education and nurturing creativity…

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I must say that I found Sir Ken Robinson’s speech to be more agreeable than that of marginally talented lightweight Elizabeth Gilbert. However, I can’t help but disagree wholeheartedly with both. I see the value in many of Robinson’s points, since they are based on valid observations grounded in reality. Yes, there is a tendency for the public school system to discourage creativity in favor of pragmatism and ventures that are considered “useful”. But his sniping of ADHD is contemptible. I submit that yes, his choreographer friend has ADHD. Medicine wouldn’t have stifled the physical compulsion that lead her to pursue dance, but dance was a good way to channel and control her ADHD without medication. Michael Phelps controls his through swimming. That doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t have become a swimmer if he had been prescribed Ritalin. I submit that his choreographer friend would have benefited from Ritalin since it wouldn’t prevent her from pursuing dance on her own terms, instead Robinson seems to patronizingly view her actions as savantism, and therefore more pure than medical intervention. Do I think that there are people who spend far too much time in their heads, and wholly ignore physical creativity? Yes. The Coen Brothers did a fantastic film (“Barton Fink“) that touched on the issue, among other things. But is not writing a valid creative endeavor? As someone with ADHD, if I didn’t spend some time in my head, and did not have the medication to help me sit down and concentrate, I never would have been able to sit down and write, or sit down and watch a movie. I never would have discovered what I consider to be my true passions. Implementing dance classes isn’t going to do anything for that, Sir Robinson.

On to Ms. Gilbert. I’m going to preface this by saying what I’ve read from (and of) Ms. Gilbert has led me to the conclusion that she’s nothing more than a marginally talented writer whose work is nothing more than lightweight entertainment. Beach reading. Mediocrity. It’s weighed down by her earnestness and a self-conscious stab at likability. She indulges in silly, shallow meditations on heavyweight subjects that are far out of her depth. Whats worse, she glamourizing all of that deplorable New Age-y embracing of Eastern religion that so many middle brow white people have been sucked into. It’s no surprise that her work was endorsed by Oprah, and loved by Oprah fans. My message to Ms. Gilbert is this: you are a grown woman. Start acting like one. You’re only embracing this shallow facsimile of “spirituality” because you desperately want to seem interesting, intellectual, and unique. Unfortunately you end up exposing yourself as being the opposite. My point? You’re a boring, intellectually (and literary) lightweight hack who needs to start thinking like a rational person so that you can join the rest of the world at the grown ups table. When that poet of yours and Tom Waits were talking about inspiration coming externally, they were being metaphorical. They wrongfully assumed that you would know this (because I guess they wrongfully assumed that you’re a rational, intelligent adult) and thus you’re misrepresenting what they said to justify your own misguided thesis. In regards to said misguided thesis: no, embracing a quasi mystical philosophy wherein someone grabs “inspiration” from the ether will not heal the emotional instability within profoundly creative people. In fact if they were to believe in such nonsense they would be crazier than they were before. Creativity and inspiration is the result of hard work. Inspiration only seems to come from external forces because of the way the brain stores and processes information. To genuinely believe that this event (completely explainable by rational science…y’know, stuff that involves facts) is actually the result of some mystical, external or otherworldly force is childish, naive, and proof of intellectual weak mindedness. In other words, you’re wrong.

“Charlie” (the life of the body) shows Barton the consequences of living the life of the mind:

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~ by frankmc5 on September 8, 2009.

2 Responses to “On education and nurturing creativity…”

  1. After reading your post, I do agree with what you said about Sir Ken Robinson’s analysis of the relationship. He was a bit extreme with his example of the woman who had ADHD and turned out to be this amazing dancer. That happens to be pure chance that the doctor turned on the radio and discovered that this girl was going to be this amazing dancer. I do disagree a little bit in that I do feel schools these days deprive students of the entitlement to individuality. All these schools emphasize the importance of math and science, but they prevent them from experiencing other different aspects of education. As Sir Ken Robinson explained, all children are born artists; They just get educated out of creativity into greater uniformity.

  2. I understand that you had some issues with the points that Ken Robinson and Elizabeth Gilbert brought up in their TED Talks..but if you really look at their speeches overall, especially in reference to the TED Commandments, they both did a very good job. They both kept their audiences engaged, took risks in what they said and spoke eloquently.

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