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Seminar at Institute Teaches Creativity

By Linda Lemery

Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative
Presentation by Sir Ken Robinson
Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Kathie Tune, Joel Nester, Linda Lemery, Petrina Carter, Andrew Boor, and Gary Tucker attended the Community Breakfast at IALR on Tuesday March 16. Sir Ken Robinson was the featured speaker.

Ken Robinson has written a number of books, one of which is about the power of the human imagination and creativity, and how they can contribute to enhancing any workplace ("Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative").

"Imagination is the gift of the human mind," said Robinson. He went on to share that, using imagination, we can visit the past and reframe the present, and that imagination--unique to humans, giving us the power to rethink and realign our conceptions--is the quality that takes humanity forward.

Robinson feels that humanity is any region's greatest resource and that these are troubled economic times, with forces at work for which there is no historical precedent. Today's children will be retiring in 2070. If we are to meet this challenge, we must think differently about our capabilities, and that different thinking will--and must--have an effect on the way we educate our children.

He believes that everyone is born with immense natural resources, but that we don't dig down deep enough to find out what they are. To help his audience understand that troubled times span the ages, Robinson shared a quote by Abraham Lincoln from a message to Congress in 1862 that seemed to resonate with today's audience: "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present - we must disenthrall ourselves and then we will save our country."

Robinson talked about how the digital era has caused a generational shift in the way people from various age groups use, or don't use, technology, and how we need to recognize and understand that generational shift and how it affects all of us. One amusing example he gave was when his daughter looked at the new watch her father was so proudly displaying. She wondered why on earth people would want to use single-function technology (watches) when they had multifunction technology (cell phones) at their fingertips. Her father looked astounded. After a pause, he responded, "Well, but my watch isn't single function; it has the date, too!"

Other topics that Robinson covered included divergent thinking, the educational requirements of industrial vs. agrarian cultures, the fact that cultures come down to habits and habitats, that refreshing of culture develops through mixing of people from all levels, and that to develop a creative culture that promotes new opportunities within an existing business, people's imaginations have to be fed. Another book he's written, "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," was also mentioned as a resource.

A short separate session with limited seating was held after the breakfast for educators to speak directly with Robinson about current problems in education.

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