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  • Good morning. How are you?

  • (Laughter)

  • It's been great, hasn't it?

  • I've been blown away by the whole thing.

  • In fact, I'm leaving.

  • (Laughter)

  • There have been three themes running through the conference

  • which are relevant to what I want to talk about.

  • One is the extraordinary evidence of human creativity

  • in all of the presentations that we've had

  • and in all of the people here.

  • Just the variety of it and the range of it.

  • The second is that it's put us in a place

  • where we have no idea what's going to happen,

  • in terms of the future.

  • No idea how this may play out.

  • I have an interest in education.

  • Actually, what I find is everybody has an interest in education.

  • Don't you?

  • I find this very interesting.

  • If you're at a dinner party,

  • and you say you work in education --

  • Actually, you're not often at dinner parties, frankly.

  • (Laughter)

  • If you work in education, you're not asked.

  • (Laughter)

  • And you're never asked back, curiously. That's strange to me.

  • But if you are, and you say to somebody,

  • you know, they say, "What do you do?"

  • and you say you work in education,

  • you can see the blood run from their face.

  • They're like, "Oh my God," you know, "Why me?"

  • (Laughter)

  • "My one night out all week."

  • (Laughter)

  • But if you ask about their education, they pin you to the wall.

  • Because it's one of those things that goes deep with people, am I right?

  • Like religion, and money and other things.

  • So I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do.

  • We have a huge vested interest in it,

  • partly because it's education that's meant to take us into this future

  • that we can't grasp.

  • If you think of it, children starting school this year

  • will be retiring in 2065.

  • Nobody has a clue,

  • despite all the expertise that's been on parade for the past four days,

  • what the world will look like in five years' time.

  • And yet we're meant to be educating them for it.

  • So the unpredictability, I think, is extraordinary.

  • And the third part of this

  • is that we've all agreed, nonetheless,

  • on the really extraordinary capacities that children have --

  • their capacities for innovation.

  • I mean, Sirena last night was a marvel, wasn't she?

  • Just seeing what she could do.

  • And she's exceptional, but I think she's not, so to speak,

  • exceptional in the whole of childhood.

  • What you have there is a person of extraordinary dedication

  • who found a talent.

  • And my contention is, all kids have tremendous talents.

  • And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.

  • So I want to talk about education

  • and I want to talk about creativity.

  • My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy,

  • and we should treat it with the same status.

  • (Applause) Thank you.

  • (Applause)

  • That was it, by the way.

  • Thank you very much.

  • (Laughter)

  • So, 15 minutes left.

  • (Laughter)

  • Well, I was born... no.

  • (Laughter)

  • I heard a great story recently -- I love telling it --

  • of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson.

  • She was six, and she was at the back, drawing,

  • and the teacher said this girl hardly ever paid attention,

  • and in this drawing lesson, she did.

  • The teacher was fascinated.

  • She went over to her, and she said, "What are you drawing?"

  • And the girl said, "I'm drawing a picture of God."

  • And the teacher said, "But nobody knows what God looks like."

  • And the girl said, "They will, in a minute."

  • (Laughter)

  • When my son was four in England --

  • Actually, he was four everywhere, to be honest.

  • (Laughter)

  • If we're being strict about it, wherever he went, he was four that year.

  • He was in the Nativity play. Do you remember the story?

  • (Laughter)

  • No, it was big, it was a big story.

  • Mel Gibson did the sequel, you may have seen it.

  • (Laughter)

  • "Nativity II."

  • But James got the part of Joseph, which we were thrilled about.

  • We considered this to be one of the lead parts.

  • We had the place crammed full of agents in T-shirts:

  • "James Robinson IS Joseph!" (Laughter)

  • He didn't have to speak,

  • but you know the bit where the three kings come in?

  • They come in bearing gifts, gold, frankincense and myrrh.

  • This really happened.

  • We were sitting there and I think they just went out of sequence,

  • because we talked to the little boy afterward and we said,

  • "You OK with that?" And he said, "Yeah, why? Was that wrong?"

  • They just switched.

  • The three boys came in,

  • four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads,

  • and they put these boxes down,

  • and the first boy said, "I bring you gold."

  • And the second boy said, "I bring you myrrh."

  • And the third boy said, "Frank sent this."

  • (Laughter)

  • What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance.

  • If they don't know, they'll have a go.

  • Am I right? They're not frightened of being wrong.

  • I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative.

  • What we do know is, if you're not prepared to be wrong,

  • you'll never come up with anything original --

  • if you're not prepared to be wrong.

  • And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity.

  • They have become frightened of being wrong.

  • And we run our companies like this.

  • We stigmatize mistakes.

  • And we're now running national education systems

  • where mistakes are the worst thing you can make.

  • And the result is that we are educating people

  • out of their creative capacities.

  • Picasso once said this, he said that all children are born artists.

  • The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.

  • I believe this passionately, that we don't grow into creativity,

  • we grow out of it.

  • Or rather, we get educated out of it.

  • So why is this?

  • I lived in Stratford-on-Avon until about five years ago.

  • In fact, we moved from Stratford to Los Angeles.

  • So you can imagine what a seamless transition that this was.

  • (Laughter)

  • Actually, we lived in a place called Snitterfield,

  • just outside Stratford,

  • which is where Shakespeare's father was born.

  • Are you struck by a new thought? I was.

  • You don't think of Shakespeare having a father, do you?

  • Do you? Because you don't think of Shakespeare being a child, do you?

  • Shakespeare being seven?

  • I never thought of it.

  • I mean, he was seven at some point.

  • He was in somebody's English class, wasn't he?

  • (Laughter)

  • How annoying would that be?

  • (Laughter)

  • "Must try harder."

  • (Laughter)

  • Being sent to bed by his dad, you know, to Shakespeare, "Go to bed, now!

  • And put the pencil down."

  • (Laughter)

  • "And stop speaking like that."

  • (Laughter)

  • "It's confusing everybody."

  • (Laughter)

  • Anyway, we moved from Stratford to Los Angeles,

  • and I just want to say a word about the transition.

  • My son didn't want to come.

  • I've got two kids; he's 21 now, my daughter's 16.

  • He didn't want to come to Los Angeles.

  • He loved it, but he had a girlfriend in England.

  • This was the love of his life, Sarah.

  • He'd known her for a month.

  • (Laughter)

  • Mind you, they'd had their fourth anniversary,

  • because it's a long time when you're 16.

  • He was really upset on the plane,

  • he said, "I'll never find another girl like Sarah."

  • And we were rather pleased about that, frankly --

  • (Laughter)

  • Because she was the main reason we were leaving the country.

  • (Laughter)

  • But something strikes you when you move to America

  • and travel around the world:

  • Every education system on Earth has the same hierarchy of subjects.

  • Every one. Doesn't matter where you go.

  • You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't.

  • At the top are mathematics and languages,

  • then the humanities, and at the bottom are the arts.

  • Everywhere on Earth.

  • And in pretty much every system too, there's a hierarchy within the arts.

  • Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools

  • than drama and dance.

  • There isn't an education system on the planet

  • that teaches dance everyday to children

  • the way we teach them mathematics. Why?

  • Why not? I think this is rather important.

  • I think math is very important, but so is dance.

  • Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do.

  • We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting?

  • (Laughter)

  • Truthfully, what happens is, as children grow up,

  • we start to educate them progressively from the waist up.

  • And then we focus on their heads.

  • And slightly to one side.

  • If you were to visit education, as an alien,

  • and say "What's it for, public education?"

  • I think you'd have to conclude, if you look at the output,

  • who really succeeds by this,

  • who does everything that they should,

  • who gets all the brownie points, who are the winners --

  • I think you'd have to conclude the whole purpose of public education

  • throughout the world

  • is to produce university professors.

  • Isn't it?

  • They're the people who come out the top.

  • And I used to be one, so there.

  • (Laughter)

  • And I like university professors, but you know,

  • we shouldn't hold them up

  • as the high-water mark of all human achievement.

  • They're just a form of life,

  • another form of life.

  • But they're rather curious, and I say this out of affection for them.

  • There's something curious about professors in my experience --

  • not all of them, but typically, they live in their heads.

  • They live up there, and slightly to one side.

  • They're disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way.

  • They look upon their body as a form of transport for their heads.

  • (Laughter)

  • Don't they?

  • It's a way of getting their head to meetings.

  • (Laughter)

  • If you want real evidence of out-of-body experiences,

  • get yourself along to a residential conference of senior academics,

  • and pop into the discotheque on the final night.

  • (Laughter)

  • And there, you will see it.

  • Grown men and women writhing uncontrollably, off the beat.

  • (Laughter)

  • Waiting until it ends so they can go home and write a paper about it.

  • (Laughter)

  • Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability.

  • And there's a reason.

  • Around the world, there were no public systems of education,

  • really, before the 19th century.

  • They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism.

  • So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas.

  • Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top.

  • So you were probably steered benignly away

  • from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked,

  • on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right?

  • Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician;

  • don't do art, you won't be an artist.

  • Benign advice -- now, profoundly mistaken.

  • The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.