One of my most passionate topic for discussion is creativity. We are all born with creativity and field experts, George Land, who conducted the NASA creativity test in 1968, Ellis Torrance, known for the Torrance Tests of Creativity Thinking and Sir Ken Robinson, the creativity expert of our time, all produced results that indicate schooling kills creativity. Building on their study and my own observations, I've noticed the diminishing creativity in children and adults have a lot to do with schools and organizations discouraging curiosity. I believe curiosity is foundational to our imagination and creativity is the act of expressing the imagination in a tangible and impactful way. In fact, I think we use creativity as a mean to satisfy our curiosity, hence a tool for problem solving. For example, Isaac Newton's curiosity of a falling apple led him to his imagination of a falling moon. To assess his theory, his creativity kicked in and led to the invention of Calculus to calculate the moon's motion and a new kind of telescope to observe the heavens.
When we limit our curiosity, we limit our imagination, purpose for creativity and passions we need to realize our potentials. My observation for lost of curiosity in adults happened two weeks ago. It started when my seven year old was curious about world's "most famous art" during her art club meeting. She did a Google search to find the answer and it led to a fascinating Mona Lisa documentary on YouTube. At the end of the one hour video, my four year old pointed to an Einstein documentary listed on the right rail. Just five minutes in, my girls wondered away while I became intrigued by the story, particularly when it started to discuss the concept of space and time. This idea that I was interested in Physics theories and laws was new to me because I'd always believed I dislike subjects relating to Science or Math. After processing my newfound passion for the topic, I tried to explain this unseen side of me. What I realized was schooling must've killed my curiosity. It killed it by teaching systems and calculations instead of storytelling and reasoning. My Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Calculus teachers were simply fixed on teaching students in a very linear way, thereby, turning away my interest and curiosity for the subjects.
If you think back to your five-year-old self, you were full of questions and curiosity. Your curiosity led you to do creative things that weren't always appropriate in the adult's eye. We had to be told to stop asking questions because we had too many. Through schooling (and even at home), we are told to avoid asking too many questions, let others have their turns or avoid challenging the authority. The age old school system that became widespread from the Industrial Revolution was not about fostering a curious mind. It was focused on producing a labor force good at staying within the system and being compliant to the norm.
As a parent, I worry about what schools are training the kids for because without curiosity, worlds shrink. Even as adults, we need to unload and reset our preconceived notions of who we are and begin to rediscover the world through a more curious mind. I'm thankful that my motivation to keep the girls creative has led me down a curious path. Amplify your curiosity to cultivate your creative instincts.
Here's the journey I wondered into that led me off on a tangent and I hope it'll inspire you to rediscover the world that you thought you knew.
Grow Your World
It all started with this documentary about Albert Einstein, which I actually resisted the first time my four year old asked me to play.
My curiosity about spacetime described in Einstein's Theory of General Relativity led me to a search for more explanations of the concept. The modern day explanation of Space and Time in the video below was eye opening.
I became even more curious about the discoveries we've made since the above video so I continued to search for more. That's when I came across the Gravitational Wave video below. It was refreshing to step outside of my interests to meet the real heroes behind modern day science.
Finally, the most rewarding thing was the discovery of Michio Kaku's interviews and talks. The Einstein documentary was when I first spotted him and I became fascinated by his ability to simplify scientific laws and theories so people without a Physics background can understand. He even provided scientific views of how we can look at life and what it means to be part of the universe. In a way, he was bridging spirituality and science and showing us that we know very little about our presence in this world. Below is a talk he gave on The Future of the Mind at Microsoft.