As I’ve studied Creativity over the past ten years, I’ve learned many things that surprised me. Each day for a week, I’m debunking one “Creativity myth” that I believed before I started studying in earnest.Yesterday I wrote about Myth No. 6: Creativity Requires Large Chunks of Uninterrupted Time.
Public schools and others modeled on industrial production methods tend to oversocialize. Students spend 12 years, during a time of rapid brain development confined in small, environmentally unhealthy classrooms. Prolonged mass instruction, with minimal individuation, keeps the middle-class mired in busy work, but uninspired for Creative work. Studies show only 10% of highly Creative people are suburban-living, comfortably middle-class.
Still, the overwhelming majority of Creative people today have spent thousands of hours in school. French philosopher Ernest Renan said:
The simplest schoolboy is now familiar with truths for which Archimedes would have given his life.
In any case, highly Creative people seem immune to the perils of schooling. Creativity scholar Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi says:
It is strange how little effect school–even high school–seems to have had on the lives of creative people.
This immunity is partly due to feelings of marginality. Csikszentmihalyi says
Nostalgia for the teenage years is almost entirely absent. Marginality–the feeling of being on the outside, of being different, of observing with detachment the strange rituals of one’s peers–was a common theme.
The right kind of formal schooling is essential for big time Creativity. Researcher R. Keith Sawyer says:
No can be creative without first internalizing the domain, and this is why scientists now believe that formal schooling is essential to creativity.
In mathematics and the sciences, the exposure one gets in high school in necessary for further advancement
…but, performance in high school is a poor indicator of future creativity in the arts and the humanities.
So, Art School for sculptors, Design School for architects and Music School for cellists. Some formal schooling is essential. But, Sawyer says:
after a certain point, additional formal education begins to interfere with creativity…this pattern shows there is some truth to the idea that schooling can get in the way…further training can oversocialize a person, resulting in a rigid, conventional way of thinking.