TED has shared truly magnificent ideas in abundance. This, by Sir Ken Robinson, concerns a bunch of things very dear to me:
He contests that our schools, traditionally geared towards industrial utility, wring the creativity out of children. Of course, that’s not to say that our education system is all bad; I loved an awful lot of it, after all. Nor that it doesn’t teach worthwhile skills or excludes creativity (although it often doesn’t rank too highly in priorities). But Robinson proposes that our education system cannot, as it stands, adequately prepare children for a future that is getting increasingly harder to predict over a progressively shorter timeframe. Creativity is, however, something humans have always needed, regardless of culture, and can only become more important in the years ahead.
A point he raises about the industrialised origins of our modern education system: our education systems train people for work, but why don’t we train them for the rest of life as well? There are some subjects that teach us about the world, our society and a bit about how to live in it, and of course, a lot of stuff useful for work is also useful elsewhere, but when it came to electives, most of us picked subjects that we (and perhaps univerities) considered useful for the work we thought we might like to do. Those didn’t leave much room for anything else, so creativity usually fell to the luck of having the right friends and/or family.
I’ll stop the text equivalent of thinking out loud here and leave the rest to Sir Ken, but would also like to very enthusiastically recommend this wonderful piece of wisdom and inspiration, from Dr Karl Paulnack, which discusses why music matters and discusses how art is an essential part of being human.
Sweat cools in pools across my face and chest, as invisible traffic sighs like rain above the crackling grass. My breath hurls the clutter from my mind like a lover betrayed. The Autumn sky glows, unencumbered.
the creek still and silent
in the dust across the bridge
footprints stop half-way
I feel like I’ve been sitting here for years, in this sheltered patch of green, seeing nothing to go back to, too timid to move on.
silhouettes of ducks
the last dim sunlight
under desperate wings
I speak of isolation to the sunset until the colour drains from the sky, which fills with a flood of fruit bats, too loud, too high, too resolute to hear. The dusk, in its dying breath, says, “go: there’s nothing here but me, and I’ll be waiting wherever you fly.”
from the horizon
blinking lights are rising
to meet Jupiter
An excerpt from this was published at Stylus (April 2009), which prompted me to think about what wasn’t working with the rest of it. This is the first part of the edited version, with two parts to follow.
I want to dance through the kitchen of your dreams.
November’s Beat Street was great fun and the new home – Arch Angel, under the S-Bahn near Alexander Platz – works a treat. The room had an warm and enthusiastic vibe and good accoustics, and if a performer had some impeccable timing, the rumble of the trains overhead could add some magnificent drama.
My set was a mixture of tested pre-Berlin poems, including one of the first I ever performed (A Fantasy in F), and stuff from the last year or so. I opened with To the Edge, which, being an embarking poem, seemed as fitting a place as any to start.
After a sea voyage or two, we travelled through a sinister world below, the romance of a new life in an old world, the unsavoury spectre of Evil Pink Day, inspirations and transformations, obsession via creepy cliché, the desolation of good-bye, and time loss.
It was the first time I’d performed a full set without reading, and I’d recommend it heartily. Not having your hands and eyes occupied with the paper lets you connect so much better with the audience and, I think, put a lot more energy into the performance. Curiously, it’s also a lot less stressful, because you don’t seem as inclined to over-correct. And learning the poems is a good way to pick up anything that isn’t quite working.
Thanks to organiser Rob Grant for the gentle prodding to take the stage, and huge electric thanks to a fantastic audience: it’s beautiful to perform to an audience whose energy you can feel coming back at you. Thanks also to the steady hand of Ash Ilott for the photos here presented.