This is a highly insightful and amusing video of Sir Ken Robinson talking about the importance of creativity, how schools squeeze it out of young people, and how our common definition of intelligence has to be radically rethought.

“The whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequences are that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they are not because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued or was actually stigmatized,” Robinson said in a speech featured on the Web site of TED, a nonprofit organization devoted simply to spreading good ideas.

TED grew out of a 1984 conference on technology, education and design. Now TED sponsors two annual conferences, maintains a Web site with a great collection of videos on various subjects and operates other projects.

Robinson, an author and creativity expert who led the British government’s 1998 advisory committee on creative and cultural education, gave the speech at a 2006 TED conference. Robinson, whose latest book is “The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything,” said that creativity is as important as literacy in education and that “we should treat it with the same status.”

The fostering of creativity demands an environment that permits mistakes, he said, but our schools don’t provide it.

Robinson told a hilarious story about a Nativity play in which his son, then 4 years old, was Joseph. He told about the scene in which three youngsters came on stage as the Three Kings. “The first boy said, ‘I bring you gold,’ and the second boy said, ‘I bring you myrrh,’ and the third boy said, ‘Frank sent this’ [instead of frankincense].” The audience exploded in laughter.

“Kids will take a chance and if they don’t know they will have a go. Am I right?” he said. “They are not frightened of being wrong. ... If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original ...

“We are now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make. We are educating people out of their creative capacities.”

Watch the video. It’s worth your time.

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