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  • >>Ken Robinson: Adults think they're not creative, but children

  • do. That's true, isn't it? Broadly speaking? In fact, I want to give you a quick test,

  • if I could. Well, I'm going to, so.... How creative do you think you are personally?

  • I mean, if you would, think of that on a ten-point scale, with ten at the top. Okay? It's important

  • to know that ten is the top. And where would you put yourself on a scale of one to ten?

  • While you're thinking about that, have a think about this. How intelligent are you on a scale

  • of one to ten, with ten at the top? Now I'm going to ask you to put your hands

  • up. You don't have to. You can say, "I'm sorry. I did not come to Zeitgeist for this type

  • of thing. I'm a grownup. You may put your hand up."

  • But assuming you're willing to, let me just give you an assurance that if you do put your

  • hands up, there are no social consequences. [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: For me. [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: Can be social death for you, for all I know. What I'm going to do, I'm

  • not going to drag anybody you up here and ask you to demonstrate anything. It's purely

  • a straw poll for the purpose of conversation. So with that caveat in mind, would you put

  • your hands up if you gave yourselves ten for creativity?

  • Was that a vote or a scratch? All right. One. Nine?

  • Eight? Seven?

  • Six? Five?

  • Four? Three?

  • Two? Okay.

  • Where was the average, do you think, of that? Yeah, I'd say.

  • How about intelligence? Now, I know a certain social modesty comes into play here, but this

  • is Zeitgeist, so get over it, you know. [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: How about ten? Any tens for intelligence?

  • No? Nine? Thank you. Thank you. Actually, you

  • can -- we're just wasting your time, honestly. You can go now.

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: Eight?

  • Seven? Six?

  • Five? Four?

  • Three? -- it's getting tense, isn't it?

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: Two?

  • Any twos? Okay. I never do one, by the way. If you got

  • one, you're not following this anyway, are you?

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: Where was the top of that

  • curve, would you think? In intelligence? About seven again? Okay. Eight. Okay.

  • All right. One last question. Last time you have to put your hands up.

  • Put your hands up if you gave yourself different marks for intelligence or creativity.

  • Okay. The reason I ask you this is, I think you're all wrong, by the way. Obviously, apart

  • from the two nines, obviously. Never argue with a nine is my view.

  • But the reason I say it is that I think most people operate on a very limited conception

  • of creativity and of intelligence. So my question is, what were you thinking

  • of when you gave yourself the mark? When you decided you could give a number for creativity,

  • what was in your mind? When you give yourself a number for intelligence, what was it you

  • were thinking of? You see, my experience of it is that people

  • operate on all kinds of misconceptions about creativity. And I think it's why that last

  • conversation was so important. They think it's all about the arts. And while the arts

  • are terribly important, it's not just about the arts. They think it's about special people.

  • It's really not. I mean, if you're a human being, it comes with a kit. You are born with

  • tremendous creative capacities. The trouble is that creativity's a bit like

  • literacy. You may have an aptitude for it but never developed the abilities that are

  • required to exercise it. That, to me, is a big fault of our education system.

  • And the third misconception is, there's nothing you can do about it. You're creative or not,

  • and that's the end of it. And I believe there's a great deal you can do to make yourselves

  • more creative. The whole theme of this conference is about

  • linking these two worlds, or this session, the inner world and the outer world. And I

  • believe that our education systems currently are failing to keep pace with the developments

  • in the external world, which are moving with a tremendous speed and depth of change. And

  • they have never been good at connecting with our inner world.

  • Very many people go through their education having no real sense of what lies deep within

  • them. I'm convinced of this, that we're all born

  • with tremendous natural talents. But very few of us actually get to tap into them, to

  • tap into the -- the depth of them. Just on this external world, by the way. I

  • mean, I published a book ten years ago called "Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative."

  • And I was asked if I would like to make any changes to it last year. We were bringing

  • out a new edition. The publisher was going to do a tenth-anniversary edition. "Would

  • you like to make any changes?" Well, it seemed to me, improbable, frankly,

  • that it could be improved in any way. [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: It was, after all, a masterwork that I had written myself.

  • But I decided under some pressure I'd make a few changes. I had in mind a weekend with

  • a spell check and a bottle of burgundy. That was the plan.

  • I actually rewrote the entire book from start to finish. I don't think there's a single

  • word unchanged in the entire book. And the reason is that so much has happened

  • in ten years, just in ten years. I mean, Google is responsible for quite a bit of this, I

  • think. But ten years ago, there were no smartphones,

  • were there? There were no iPads? No iPods? I know that's not a Google idea. There were

  • no social media. I mean, Alison talked about interviewing Zuckerberg here when it was just

  • a faint idea in his head. There was no Twitter ten years ago, was there?

  • I mean, ten years ago, people didn't tweet, did they? I mean, if they did, they were discouraged,

  • weren't they? [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: People -- people would say, "What was that? And do you mind not doing

  • that again? We're trying to eat in here. If you have to tweet, go outside and do it."

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: But now, you know, if you're

  • not tweeting on a regular basis, if you haven't tweeted this morning, you feel socially inadequate.

  • This is just in the space of ten years. So we know the external world is changing

  • with a fantastic rate and profundity. So that's one of the reasons I wanted to rewrite the

  • book. By the way, I rewrote the book on Microsoft

  • Word. Do you use Microsoft Word? Yes. Well, I like it. But you may have noticed

  • Microsoft Word has opinions. Doesn't it? It tends to give you little squiggles if it -- there

  • are two sorts of squiggles, those that point out you have made a mistake. I'm fine with

  • that. The squiggles I don't like are where they disapprove of what you've just said.

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: Like the passive voice. They

  • don't like it. And why? What has this got to do with Bill Gates? We don't know.

  • If you use the passive voice, they give you squiggles and suggest helpful alternatives.

  • I wrote this sentence, "The foundations of the modern intelligence test were laid in

  • the late 19th century by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin."

  • That's true, by the way. It's a beautiful sentence, isn't it?

  • I'll read it again for you. It's that good, I'm feeling.

  • [ Laughter. ] >>Ken Robinson: "The foundations of the modern

  • intelligence test were laid in the late 19th century by Sir Francis Galton, a cousin of

  • Charles Darwin." Microsoft Word didn't like that. It has the

  • passive voice in it, "were laid." So it helpfully suggested this alternative in the active voice.

  • "In the late 19th century, Sir Francis Galton laid a cousin of Charles Darwin" --

  • [ Laughter ] >>Ken Robinson: -- "the foundation of the

  • modern intelligence test." I had no idea.

  • But I rewrote the book using Microsoft Word for lack of an alternative, because so much

  • has changed in the world around us. The rate of technological change has transformed everything.

  • And it will continue to. People here are much more expert at this than I am, but you will

  • know, I'm sure, that ten years from now, the book will have to be rewritten again. Many

  • of the things that we think are so smart and groovy just now will be discarded within ten

  • years. I mean, I think if you show your grandchildren your iPad, they will smile at you with a kind

  • of patronizing look of how quaint it was that you thought this was so exciting. You know,

  • that you actually have to hold something in your hand, like an actual object. Because,

  • I mean, the work we've been seeing on robotics, you can multiply that with what's happening

  • in cloud computing and everything else, ten years from now, these things we think are

  • so advanced will be primitive, in all likelihood. The other fact is population growth, that's,

  • I think, about to present us with challenges people haven't faced up to. There was a very

  • good program on the BBC -- there are many good programs on the BBC. This happens to

  • be one of them -- last year. It was about how many people can live on Earth. And it

  • was called. "How Many People Can Live on Earth." The BBC have a great gift for titles, I find.

  • And they came to this view. You know, there are now seven and a half billion people on

  • the planet, seven and a half -- heading for seven and a half billion, which is more people

  • than the whole history of humanity, by a long way.

  • And we don't know if the Earth can handle it. So they said if everybody on Earth were

  • to consume at the same rate as the average person in Rwanda -- you know, consume food,

  • fuel, water, air, space. They said if everybody on Earth were to consume at the same rate

  • as the average person in Rwanda, that the Earth could sustain a maximum population of

  • 15 billion people. So we're halfway to that. The trouble, of course, is, we don't all consume

  • at the same rate as they do in Rwanda. They said if everybody on Earth were to consume

  • at the same rate as the average person in North America -- that's us -- the Earth could

  • sustain a maximum population of 1.2 billion. So we're five times past that currently.

  • So if everybody on Earth wants to live as we do in North America -- and, by the way,

  • they do -- we would need four more planets to make this feasible, which we don't have.

  • And there's a paradox here. All of these challenges are created by human ingenuity and human innovation

  • and creativity. It's not the lemurs that are causing the problem. It's us. And at the very

  • point where we need to get even more innovative, more inventive, more ingenious to deal with

  • the challenges that we have created, our education systems are stifling the very capacities on

  • which we're about to depend. And this is -- I just want to get to this. There are -- We

  • really live in two worlds, don't we? There's a world, as a guy called (saying name) once,

  • I thought, very nicely put it. There's a world that exists only -- exists whether or not

  • you exist, a world that came into being before you did. It was here before you got here.

  • It will be here well long after you are gone. It's the world of other people, events, other

  • circumstances. Our education systems are pretty obsessed with that world.

  • But there's another world that exists only because you exist. It's the world of your

  • own private consciousness, the world that came into being when you did, the world, as

  • somebody once said, where there's only one set of footprints, a world of your private

  • passions, your motivations, your aspirations, your hopes, and your talents.

  • And I believe the future of the world around us, so far as we're concerned, depends on

  • understanding much more about the world within us.

  • And the more standardized our education systems become, the less amenable they are to allowing

  • us to make those explorations. You have no idea what your talents are, I'm

  • sure. How many of you have got children? Can I ask

  • you? How about two children? Okay. And the rest of you have seen such children?

  • [ Laughter. ] >>Ken Robinson: Small people wandering about.

  • I will make you a bet. If you've got two or more children or you have two or more siblings

  • or friends -- I hope that's now included everybody. But if you've got two or more children, I'll

  • make you a bet. My bet is that they are completely different from each other. Aren't they? Completely

  • different from each other. No matter how alike they may be in some respects, you would never

  • confuse them, would you? Like, "Which one are you? Remind me."

  • [ Laughter. ] >>Ken Robinson: I am constantly being mixed

  • up here. And the reason I point out is this, that our

  • education systems are based on three principles which are the opposite of how human life flourishes.

  • Apart from that, they're great. The first one is conformity. Our systems are

  • becoming more and more standardized; whereas the great pulse of human life is diversity.

  • We are here in all of our varied differences, we are centers of unique talents and possibilities,

  • each of us in every child. The second is our education systems are based on compliance,

  • more and more. Whereas the energy of human life is creativity and innovation. It's why

  • in the United States -- kids come from college and they cannot innovate anymore. It's kind

  • of been educated out of them. But the third is this: Human life is organic. We create

  • our alliance, our education systems are based on a principal of linearity. I would bet very

  • few of are you of living the life now that you anticipated you would be living when you

  • left school; is that correct? I mean, we submit to a fiction here that there comes a point

  • in your life where you have to write your resume. And we set it all out in some linear

  • narrative, you put headings in, certain things in bold you pick them out to try to make your

  • life look as if it's all run along some very well-planned strategy here to take you from

  • your childhood to your present position of eminence. But of course it's not at all like

  • that. You do that because the last thing that you want to do is to convey in your resume

  • the actual chaos that you've been living through. [ Laughter ]

  • >> Ken Robinson: And the actual decisions you've made all along the way.

  • Now we are paying a very heavy price for this. This failure to hold people to plumb the world

  • within them. Currently, in the United States, almost 10% of 14 to 19-year-olds are on drugs

  • to treat attention deficit disorder, ADHD. The people prescribing them will tell you,

  • in some cases these are genuine instances; in many cases it's based on the quickest and

  • most subjective of assessments. Our kids are being drugged, often to get them through this

  • education system in a way that's unprecedented. Nearly five and a half million children in

  • America are on these drugs to get them to focus on things which are presumably otherwise

  • rather tedious for them. And a minimum of a third of our kids who head

  • to high school in America do not graduate. It's as high as 60% in some parts of the country.

  • I was in Houston, Texas recently. I was told by the superintendent, 60% of kids don't graduate

  • high school. That's a catastrophic. In America, where we are now, where I live, one in 31

  • Americans is in the correctional system. I don't mean to say if you drop out of school

  • you end up in jail, of course not. But what is true is very many people in the correctional

  • system did not complete their education. Many states are spending more money on the correctional

  • system now while reducing it on the educational system. And the other fact you might just

  • dwell on is that a couple of years ago, sales in America of anti-psychotic drugs that were

  • previously only given to people who were in mental care, sales of that category exceeded

  • sales of anti-cholesterol drugs and drugs for acid reflux. It's now a $14 billion industry.

  • If you wanted evidence that the world within us is in bad shape, on a grand scale, I think

  • they are just some of the examples that I could give.

  • So what I'm saying is if we're serious about exploring the world around us, we have to

  • explore the world within us. We do that, as Van Jones I thought said beautifully earlier,

  • by looking again at the broad structure of education, we need to restore arts programs,

  • sports programs, we need to re-professionalize the teaching profession. Above all, we have

  • to personalize education to every child in the system. We have the technology now for

  • the first time in human history to do it. The last thing that I just want to say is

  • there was -- there was a great thing on the Onion, do you know that website? Yeah, about

  • -- we have to save the planet. I'm optimistic that we have the powers within us to do it.

  • But -- but we have to attend to them. The Onion's were saying don't worry about saving

  • the planet. The planet will be fine. As we saw at the very beginning of that fantastic

  • image of the cosmos of the Milky Way, we are a very small part of all of this. The earth

  • has been around for four and a half billion years. Human beings like us, showed up -- I

  • don't mean like neanderthal creatures. I mean like brutal people like us, with attractive

  • profiles and a sense of irony. [ Laughter ]

  • >> Ken Robinson: We showed up probably less than 100,000 years ago. If you think of the

  • whole arc of the life span of the earth as one year, human beings showed up less than

  • a minute to midnight on the 31st of December. So the Onion said, look, don't worry about

  • the planet, the planet is going to be fine. It's gone on for four and a half billion years

  • left yet. We may not make it, you know. The planet make conclude, you know, we tried humanity,

  • not so good. [ Laughter ]

  • >>Ken Robinson: Not the idea we thought it would be. We're going back to bacteria. They

  • had a fantastic run. [ Laughter ]

  • >> Ken Robinson: Don't worry about the planet. Worry about us. And what we can do to live

  • harmoniously with it, as we saw from those wonderful photographs of the arctic. I mean

  • that picture of the slaughter of the dolphins I think will live with all of us. We are despoiling

  • the very planet on which we depend. We won't, I think, make a better job of it until we

  • understand the depth of our own talent and spiritual resources within us. When I ask