Out of our Minds - Learning to be Creative

Capstone Publishing (Wiley)

Author: Ken Robinson

Reviewed by Julia S. McAdams

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D. was born and educated in England and now resides in Los Angeles. He is Professor Emeritus of Arts Education at the University of Warwick, and is a renowned author, consultant, and speaker in the areas of creativity, education, and the arts. His background includes leadership roles in several initiatives to promote creativity in education and in the workplace, both in Europe and in the United States, and he was knighted in 2003 for achievements in those areas. The topic of Out of Our Minds is the importance of encouraging creativity in educational systems and the workplace; the intended audience for this book is anyone with that interest.

The book begins with an intriguing discussion of world history, the history of educational systems and curricula, and the tendency to separate arts and sciences within education. The author contends that, in general, children think they are creative and adults think they are not. Also, he states that there is a tendency to grow out of and not into creativity, and that creativity is much like reading and writing. If one cannot read or write, it is because he or she has not been shown how. If someone is not creative, he or she has not been shown what is involved. Sir Robinson also discusses the value of the inclusion of creative disciplines within the workplace and in educational systems, and the corporate university concept. 

Out of Our Minds is about why creativity matters so much, why people think they are not creative, how we arrived at this point, and what we can do about it.” 

In the preface, Sir Robinson states that “Out of Our Minds is about why creativity matters so much, why people think they are not creative, how we arrived at this point, and what we can do about it.”  He cites a great many references, and provides examples of how life experiences and environment might affect musical, artistic, or other creative skills.  He also includes examples of how there often is benefit from taking a multidisciplinary approach to workplace projects. In the final chapter, he describes how creative subject matter can be infused into a school system. He uses the example of how founders of the Blue Man Group, a renowned creative organization, ultimately started a very successful Blue School System, which emphasizes creativity as much as other topics. The impetus for developing this school came when the founders were choosing schools for their own children.

 

Of particular interest to AIR members is Sir Robinson’s discussion of what employers report they are seeking and finding in new graduates, and the implications for curricula planning. In addition, the book includes a section on assessment practices in higher education with particular emphasis on the challenges of assessment within the creative disciplines.

"...we live in revolutionary times, in order to survive and do well, we need to think differently about our abilities—particularly creativity—and make full use of them.”

 

 Robinson’s main argument is that since we live in revolutionary times, in order to survive and do well, we need to think differently about our abilities—particularly creativity—and make full use of them. In order to facilitate positive change, organizations and educational systems may need to consider new approaches.  He cites an impressive number of studies and publications that support his views, and has authored other books on the subject. The author’s perspective is first, that of an educator in the arts, and second, that of a renowned consultant. 

An important strength of the book is that the author writes in a very entertaining style and weaves humor into all 300-plus pages. I would love to see more on how an individual can take steps to enhance his or her own creativity, in addition to the material on creativity in organizations. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and found it to be a great learning experience and very entertaining. The individuals who would benefit from reading Out of Our Minds are students, people who work in education, and anyone else interested in increasing creativity in our society.  

 

 Julia S. McAdams serves as Institutional Research Analyst in the Office of Research and Assessment at the University of Alabama.

 
 

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Total Comments: 2
 
Meg posted on 1/31/2012 11:48 AM
I loved his presentation at the 2011 SACS Annual Meeting. The book sounds just as insightful and entertaining.
Heather posted on 1/31/2012 5:07 PM
This could be a great plenary session at an Annual AIR Forum! Plus, the book could be foundation for a SeminAIR Discussion Group.