Teaching creativity a possibility or myth?
During my usual lunch trolling of my RSS feed from Tomorrow.sg, I am once again faced with the amazing ad-nausum argument of whether it is possible to teach creativity and its cousin entrepreneurship to an individual.
This comes at a very important time as we are in the midst of Singapore’s transition from a manufacturing base economy into a knowledge based one.
I shall attempt to share my 2 cents worth on this issue, and echo a comment from Mr.Wang’s blog of Creative Technologies Mr Sim Wong Hoo when he told the Singapore Government to “Do Nothing” when ask what it can do to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in Singapore.
I am basically of the mindset that you cannot teach creativity or entrepreneurhsip because there is nothing to teach!
Think about it? How did you go about getting your grubby paws on that elusive bar of chocolate? Did you trade or barter your apple for it? Did you pinch some when the owner was not looking? When was the last time you were faced with a problem that you solved thru your own intellectual power?
News-flash people, everybody is innately creative and entrepreneurial in their own way and I will go as far to say that it’s ingrained in our DNA as it’s about a matter of survival. How are you going design that spear that best kills that deer? After a few time, anybody will figure it out.
But being creative or entrepreneurial does not make you a designer or entrepreneur. That’s the harsh reality of today work environment. In any activity and profession that falls in the realm of creativity, only the best survive. There are many elements that make a designer and entrepreneur, and I will not list them all out as there are tons of blogs who do a much better job than mine. I will talk though about one element, and perhaps the most important.
I quote from Singapore Entrepreneurs Blog who could not say this any better:
This incident demonstrated a very simple weakness on both Singaporean entrepreneurs: they just cannot assimilate and elucidate the information from both sides of the house and make an independent decision and passionate stand on their ideas.
To me the solution is not to teach creativity as a subject but to teach people how to think in general. Mentally process input, analyze information and finally come up with their conclusions supported by their own reasoning. And it does not matter if it’s right or wrong. Post conclusion discussion is the key.
The ability to think analytically is a core competence in applying creativity to become a designer or entrepreneur. In many ways being a designer or entrepreneur is about problem solving, or I dare say, creative problem solving!
In my personal view the only way is to move away from rote learning towards enlighten learning. This has to start from young. Exposure to many subjects and activities, dropping streaming, project based homework etc. The list is endless.
Ah but now we start to talk about the environment’s influences on creativity, and this leads me to my final few points.
The biggest myth in creativity is that you need freedom to encourage creativity. To me that is utter nonsense. Can you create something if your world is in utter anarchy? I don’t think so. Look at your work space if you could not find your tools would you be able to draw? Furthermore ask your self as designers, if you had to design a product, but with no constraints what would you do? Chances are likely you would waffle around and come up with tons of ideas that never become a design. As they say, nothing beats the freedom of a tight brief.
Same with entrepreneurs, the creative entrepreneurs like Mr. Sim, will find a way whether if there is rules or not. In fact if there are rules, it’s much easier, as he will know what he can and cannot do. How can then rules stifle entrepreneurship? In fact contrary to popular belief, it is dead simple to start a company in Singapore. In fact you can do it online.
In conclusion, creative entrepreneurs, or what i like to call the true entrepreneur, will always find a way. All this start-up funding and incubators, business plans awards are really a joke to a true entrepreneur. Is seems the ultimate oxymoron that you need funding to sell a product, when the product should be already good or unique enough to be sold on its own merit!