I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately to do with creativity. Along with the posts there are often comments from people explaining how they have suppressed some form of creative urge within themselves for years. They are rarely happy with the “real job” they thought they should have. So, later in life, after becoming disillusioned with whatever profession they had chosen, they start to pursue the passion that makes them want to get up in the morning. It is not always like this. For some, the act of being creative has been so effectively beaten out of then that it may take years to return.
There are so many cultural and social stigmas that polarize us regarding being a “creative” or having a real job. An example from my own extended family is a joke that used to go around regarding a BA (Bachelor of Arts degree). It goes something like this: “What does a BA stand for? – Bugger All!” Now before you all write to me and explain that an Arts degree is different to a Fine Arts degree, I understand the distinction. However, what this joke really gets at is a societal misconception that the only kind of education that is worthwhile is one that can be directly associated with a job or a trade. You know, like being a Lawyer, Engineer, Accountant, or a Technician of some kind. It seems that just learning how to be creative, to be a critical thinker, to explore abstract concepts, is not a very worthwhile pursuit.
This is all especially interesting as I have just finished reading Hard Times by Charles Dickens for an english class I am taking. The book opens with “Now, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.” “Fancy” is something that is not allowed for these poor children. As you can imagine, the book ends up being a very strong indictment to this style of schooling and the philosophy of Utilitarianism. It seems to me, that not a lot has changed since Dickens wrote Hard Times in 1854.
In Daniel Pink’s book A whole new mind, Pink argues that a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) is the new MBA for the western world; that creativity is what will help companies succeed and give them a competitive edge in this world of automation and out-sourcing. Unfortunately, I fear that this will take some time to catch on. We are just so engrossed in our dogma that there must be a tangible and immediate return on our investment. That “fancy” is not a profitable pastime and that we need to stick to the facts.
I think I will close this little rant with a quotation from Albert Einstein:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited.
Imagination encircles the world.”