Posted on 2 Comments

Suffer, little children…

Since probably about 2010, I’ve been toying with an idea that I consider very important. I can’t really remember the thing that sparked it initially, but I’m sure a lot of it had to do with my experiences in the world of adults – the world of employment – as well as my experiences at the various educational institutions I’ve attended.

That I think there are vast, fundamental problems with education systems, is no secret to anyone who knows me. Thus, what I started thinking about, was a school to teach children to focus on their creativity. Somewhere where kids can discover what their true passion is, and live it, so that they don’t end up the way most of us do – doing jobs we hate to get some money at the end of the month to simply survive.

I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I feel that, if that’s really all there is to life, I really don’t want any part of it.

I started thinking further about how utterly useless and misdirected half the stuff was that I’d learned in school. I started thinking things like, “If only I’d had computer science classes in school,” or “If only I’d had art classes in school.”

And then, I discovered this video, and all these random little thoughts  solidified into one big idea:

Sir Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED Talk on “How Schools Kill Creativity”. If this video doesn’t work for you, for some reason, you can also view it here on the official TED YouTube channel.

See, one of my problems in school was that I was actually quite good at mathematics and science. Not only that – I enjoyed these subjects as well. As a result, everyone kept “guiding” (read: pushing) me in the direction of the sciences, engineering, etc. The trouble was that nobody bothered to look at the fact that I was also really good at art and music and loved writing. I’m not even going to say too much about that – if you watch Sir Ken Robinson’s talk up there, he expresses precisely what I experienced growing up.

And it’s nobody’s fault. Nobody did this with malicious intent – it’s simply the way of the world (it’s messed me up more than pretty much anything else in my life though). This cycle of fear we all get raised to respect.  Continue reading Suffer, little children…

Posted on Leave a comment

Forests vs Trees (also: Hot-Air Balloons)

Hexagon forest with one dead treeI wonder what the first guy to come up with the idea for a passenger-occupied hot-air balloon did when he finally sat down to start working on this bizarre idea of his. I wonder if there was a moment of thinking, “This is crazy. What was I thinking? It can never be done.” Actually, I’m pretty sure there might have been. Someone eventually did make one though, thus proving all those fears irrelevant.

I suppose it’s almost always scary to do something new – whether it is just new to you, or whether it is entirely unique to the world. That’s most likely because new things provide us with no internal frame of reference. There’s nothing we can compare it to in our past. And so it is with ideas. Even great ideas can suddenly seem impossible to execute when you start looking at the “how” of it.

But I think that’s precisely where we need to believe in a little “magic”; a little “suspension of reality” and just go with it. I’ve seen so many times how people kill great ideas prematurely because immediately after having the idea, and before giving it a chance to settle down and ruffle its feathers a little, people start questioning the “how”. And so often, because they can’t find an immediate answer to the “how”, the illusion gets shattered and all faith in that big idea is lost (it’s a bit like the Buddha’s parable of the poisoned arrow – worrying about who shot the arrow, what it’s made of, what kind of bow was used – before focusing on the fact that there’s a damn poisoned arrow stuck in your leg).

While doing a stint in design school, we were faced with some or other project one day and almost all my classmates (who had infinitely more experience with Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, etc. than I had) seemed to just calmly sit down and start working on their ideas. I must have looked somewhat panicky and the lecturer came up to me. I told him I didn’t have enough confidence with any of the software packages yet – I had no idea how I would execute this idea. Then, he gave me some of the best creative advice ever – really simple, but absolutely brimming with wisdom: “Worry about the idea, not the tools. The tools are merely there to help you execute the idea and it doesn’t matter what tools you use.” Basically – worrying about the how is entirely the wrong way around to start working on anything creative. It will most likely depress you if you start worrying about the how before worrying about the what. It will most likely kill the what. It will most likely get you right back to where you started from in the first place… Continue reading Forests vs Trees (also: Hot-Air Balloons)