When we think of fresh, new startups that are disrupting traditional industries, we often hear common adjectives thrown in front of them like “innovative”, “creative” or “novel”. Out of the box thinking is a standard requirement for startup greatness it would seem, which is why it is so impressive that many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs managed to preserve their curious tendencies from the bombardment that is our current education system, which traditionally tells you what is, rather than allows for the exploring of what could be.
In light of this it is probably no surprise that some of the world’s most creative thinkers such as Bill Gates or Steve Jobs were dropouts. Sir Ken Robinson, a TED Speaker, Author and a strong advocate for Artistic Expression in the education system, once stated that “creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value”.
However, most modern day education systems do not support or encourage innovative thinking habits, as Robinson explains at great length in his TED talk “Do schools kill creativity?“. His video resonated with many and has clocked up an impressive 13 Million views on Youtube.
During the talk, he tells the story of a young girl who was considered unteachable due to here energetic nature. After the girl was encouraged to use her energy towards a future in dance, she discovered an overwhelming passion which resulted in her becoming the world famous dancer known as Gillian Lynne.
Additionally, we are seeing more schools place less value on the importance of art, with reduced funding for teachers and programs. However, it is not unheard of for parents to reflect this view, expressing deep concern that there children’s options and chances of success will be limited if they decide to pursue a career in the arts.
While this might be a reasonable fear to have given the often subjective nature of art and its uncertainty for success, it is also important to bear in mind that generations before us are looking at this choice with an outdated mentality. They come from a time when graduates from universities were nearly guaranteed well-paid employment for the rest of their lives. Now, the value of a university degree is worth less than before, which places all the more importance on choosing to study what you want to do, rather than what you think you should.
During a graduation speech at Maharishi University of Management, Jim Carrey talked about his father choosing accounting as a “safe” career. Despite taking the cautious road, his father lost his job, which resulted in his family facing tough times. Learning from the cruel experience his father faced, the famous comedian decided to face his future with the certainty that he should trust himself and head into the unpredictable career of acting. “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love,” he stated to the class of 2014.
Doing what you love may sound like a fantasy, but there is the possibility that you can achieve great things, it just depends on how hard you are willing to work for it. For example, one look at an art university such as San Francisco’s Academy of Art’s website and there is a long list of successful Alumni who they proudly advertise as Oscar Nominees. Though it might be geographically impossible for young students to pack up and head off to somewhere like California for education, the accessibility provided by the internet has opened doors to artists of all sorts, to not only attend accredited universities online, but also learn from passionate people’s online tutorials, promote their own artistic creations, and connect with other creatives, from anywhere in the world.
Society is quick to applaud the creative entrepreneurs and thought leaders once they prove themselves and have defied all odds. Until then, innovators often struggle to fit into rigid society, and are often called crazy, told they won’t succeed, and advised to take more conventional life paths.
If we want to see a future where young minds look at situations and think “what if?” rather than “that’s that” we must encourage this curiosity from an early age. Understanding that creative subjects that allow students to explore this enthusiasm to flourish are just as important as others, such as Maths and Science, is essential if we hope to create a generation of innovators, with groundbreaking startups contributing to the economy in societies all over the world.