Wikio - Top Blogs - Religion and belief

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Originality: a misnomer inhibiting creativity

Ken Robinson makes an excellent case in today's Guardian for his argument that Michael Gove values creativity but doesn't understand it.

The nub of his argument is that: "creativity is not a linear process, in which you have to learn all the necessary skills before you get started. It is true that creative work in any field involves a growing mastery of skills and concepts. It is not true that they have to be mastered before the creative work can begin. Focusing on skills in isolation can kill interest in any discipline. Many people have been put off mathematics for life by endless rote tasks that did nothing to inspire them with the beauty of numbers. Many have spent years grudgingly practicing scales for music examinations only to abandon the instrument altogether once they've made the grade.

The real driver of creativity is an appetite for discovery and a passion for the work itself. When students are motivated to learn, they naturally acquire the skills they need to get the work done."

Where I disagree with him, however, is when he defines creativity "as the process of having original ideas that have value." The idea that we have original ideas is, I think, a misnomer which inhibits widespread creativity; a view which has been enhanced by reading the brilliant little book by Austin Kleon called Steal Like An Artist. Some of Kleon's arguments against the notion of originality can be read here.

Giles Fraser is, as ever, also well worth reading arguing that art and religion are too important to be placed in the hands of those who seek reductionist explanations of their value and taking issue with Maria Miller's argument that our focus must be on culture's economic impact. He compares this with the sort of realist propaganda with which communism specialised saying they both want to turn art into advertising.

He quotes Herbert Marcuse saying, "The power of art lies in its power to break the monopoly of established reality." His fascination with religion is its ability to do precisely the same:

"That it is able to suggest there is more to reality than the flat-footed empiricism of those who believe that if you can't count it, touch it or weigh it, it doesn't exist. In an age where religion has made itself look so foolish, art carries the torch for the sort of transcendence that art and faith once shared."

The essence of art and religion is not in trying to be original but, "to say things that cannot be said."


Thea Gilmore - I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine.

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