War on Imagination

Welby Altido, the former Executive Creative Director of Cirque du Soleil and author of Creative Courage, describes in his book what he calls, “the war on imagination”. He highlights his experience in North Korea and his intense reaction to a world of extreme rules, restrictions, and the suppression of imagination and creativity. I also had a similar experience in 1986 when I took a group of students to the communist Soviet Union. People did what they were supposed to do, and nothing more. Once, when some students were getting their money exchanged, the town clock struck 12 o’clock. At the start of the striking, the person who was behind the booth, grabbed his window and closed it. The money transaction had not finished. When we got quite upset and said it would only take another 3 minutes to finish the transaction, the person looked blankly at us and said it was lunch time. We had to wait there until he finished lunch, at which time the transaction finished. An inability to have creative thought, spurred by imagination immobilizes people and, from what I experienced, it also takes away the care for life and the love of life. Imagination is the seed for creativity. Without creativity there is no innovation, very little collaboration and little joy in life.

When watching someone teach, I can tell right away if the students have been taught to have a creative thought process. The most obvious sign is that the students aren’t just waiting for the teacher to tell them what to do. When a person has been taught how to think with a creative thought process, then they are much more likely to take initiative, take risk, enjoy listening to the ideas of others, and apply those ideas to their own ideas.

In Canada, creativity took a priority in the classroom. So much so that it became more important than developing knowledge and skills and was understood to be the ability to come up with as many answers as possible without good, solid logic and without using skills. Students weren’t frightened to take risks, but they also lost a disciplined approach to being creative. Yes, you can be creative and disciplined at the same time.

MYTHS

1. Skills don’t affect creativity. False. The more skills you have, the more creative you can be.

2. Creativity is the same as innovation. False. Being creative is taking something that is already there, and doing something different with it. For example, you can be creative by rearranging flowers. Being innovative, on the other hand, is coming up with something very new.

3. Innovation requires technology. False. Innovation is not limited to technology. Keep your creativity alive by practicing developing your skill of imagination

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