Who brought more to the world – Newton or Picasso?
I clearly remember the quote above my junior school teacher’s board, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’ by the great, Albert Einstein. It’s stuck with me today, and I suspect, my memory of this shows an early appreciation and love for creativity.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’
Growing up we’re encouraged to nurture traditional academic subjects and our parents beam with pride as we recite our times tables. Yet, what’s displayed on the fridge is our pasta and glitter picture and they can’t wait to tell the stories of the first time we taught ourselves to roll over.
Sir Ken Robinson, creative industry author and TED talk public speaker, defines creativity as, ‘the process of having original ideas that add value’. Knowledge is memory and creativity is problem-solving.
I believe we’re in a transition between a time where knowledge was power and into in a time when creativity is more key than ever before.
Is knowledge power?
Growing up our education system was structured — maths, science and literature are kings and creative subjects secondary. It’s been that way since the industrial revolution. Perhaps now it’s time to rethink how valuable and intelligent the subjects we teach are, now it’s no longer enough to simply recall knowledge alone.
Knowledge is learning from those before you and the real power is using creativity to take that knowledge and discover or create something new.
I’m not saying knowledge is irrelevant. There are still many things I want to know more about, and I learn new things every day. Yet the most enviable ideas almost always come from seeing things from an unexpected perspective, instead of getting stuck in the trap of what we know them to be. For example when Guinness turned a negative into a positive with, ‘Good things come to those who wait’.
So, in a world, where on-the-job learning is on the rise and with the UK’s creative industries growing at twice the rate of the economy, isn’t it more important than ever that we’re celebrating our wild imaginations?
I want to be a vlogger when I grow up
Rewind to 2005 and vlogging was a term people were just starting to understand, and now it’s one of the blooming creative careers. The professional career paths we choose are no longer as black and white as wanting to be a fireman or a nurse. People are being more creative with their careers and working multiple entrepreneurial or self-employed ventures to make their living. YouTubers are making millions and influencers is the new buzzword.
Plus, the creative world is now opening the minds of the over-40s – enter the ‘mintern’. Those who want to make a mid-life career change – find a new way of doing something or using skills you’ve enjoyed outside of ‘work’ to create a new way of life.
Curating the future
Our technological achievements are far from what we ever imagined possible. Automation is taking over knowledge-based tasks. Yet for Artificial Intelligence to be truly the future we need to find a creative way to further our knowledge in this field to replicate conscious awareness, emotion and creativity. It’s those things combined that create our human intelligence.
Seeing the bigger picture
As I mentioned earlier, our greatest ideas often arrive from seeing from an alternative perspective and going beyond the norm, very Picasso. Whether you’re a creative or notthere’ll come a time when you need a creative solution to a problem.
Myers – Briggs, psychological authors research into the roles of each side of our brains, explains how this happens and blue-sky thinking is not something that comes easily to everyone. The left side is analytical and the right, imaginative. Most people have a dominant side of the brain although it’s the rarer whole brain thinker and the interaction of both sides that gives a higher level of thinking, and our most creative thoughts.
When Newton discovered gravity, an apple falling triggered his left side to ask why and his right side thought beyond his knowledge to solve the problem.
To truly harness creativity, we need to encourage both sides of the brain to work together and unlock different ways of seeing what we know.
Gone is the day when we rewarded knowledge over creativity and our leaders had to know all the answers. Today, I believe creativity and knowledge are equally important, so we can all remind ourselves to be more Einstein and harness our inner Newton and Picasso.