The Value of Creativity

One October evening, I was reading the book Creative Confidence (2014) by Tom and David Kelley, and getting inspired as usual. I am actually at the beginning of the book, but I have come across many interesting topics and ideas which made me think and question things. So, even though I was going to write a blog post when I finished the book, I decided to write it now, so here we go.


The first thing the book led me to question is –obviously- creativity. All of us have an idea about this word, right? But, what if I ask you: “Do you consider yourself a creative person?” We were asked this question in our Design-Thinking class by our course director Janja during the orientation week. She wanted us to raise our hands if we considered ourselves creative. To be honest, I didn’t feel creative and this was after a session about creativity, where we discussed the concept and came to the conclusion that every human being was creative already. Apparently being creative wasn’t a talent or something we learned at a certain point in life. So why hadn’t I raised my hand? Because even though the idea of every human being including myself being creative sounded amazing, I didn’t really feel confident in my creativity. Because I had this logic that I wasn’t really creating something new like a piece of artwork or music. Also if we go back in time, when I was like 4-5 years old, whenever me and my sister were drawing things together, I would get really annoyed at myself because I couldn’t draw nicely whereas my sister drew really well. She has always been talented in drawing and designing, so she identified herself as creative, and since I wasn’t, I didn’t feel creative. I have been involved in music since a very young age, where I started with playing the piano and then in high school I started singing for the school band and continued performing during my undergrad as well. Even though I was singing and playing an instrument, wrote a few lyrics, because I didn’t create my own song, I didn’t see myself as a creative being. However, since that class during the first week of MACE and whilst reading Creative Confidence (2014), I’ve been questioning myself and I guess I am gaining back my confidence in creativity.

In the book, I came across some ideas that I could really relate to and one of them is what I’ll be writing about in this post, which is the value given to creativity in education institutions. The book mentions the TED Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” (2006) by Sir Ken Robinson, which we actually watched in class as well. In the TED Talk, Robinson explains how classes that trigger creativity like drama and dance aren’t really valued. Towards the end of his talk, the story he tells of Gillian Lynne, a successful ballerina, dancer and director, and also the choreographer of the famous musical Cats, has really touched me:

Gillian’s mom takes her to see the doctor because she wasn’t able to focus in class. The doctor, after talking to them, asks Gillian to wait in the room while he talks to her mother and he turns on the radio. As soon as they leave the room, Gillian starts dancing to the music. After watching her for a few minutes, the doctor says to the mom: “Mrs. Lynn, Gillian isn’t sick, she is a dancer.”

A scene from the musical Cats (Wikimedia, 2007)

I think we need more doctors and also professors like that. My point is, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of creativity and the importance of classes that students get to show their creative side, compared to classes like math and science. Since the beginning of human life, cultural and thus creative activities have always been devalued and weren’t even seen as part of the economy (Newbigin, 2010), and thus creative jobs have always been seen as risky in terms of success and wage, and this has to change.

Not only in primary and high schools, as mentioned above, but also in universities, creativity is devalued. As it’s mentioned in the book (T. & D. Kelley, 2014), for the young people who are at the stage of going into higher education, parents and teachers advise them to pursue degrees that are less-risky and more mainstream. I could highly relate to this. Even though I liked singing and music, I never thought of studying music in university. I chose subjects that really interested me – International Relations and Management –  but the main reason I chose them was employment opportunities. To be honest my family didn’t force me to choose these subjects, it was my own decision. But I also think because I was brought up seeing creative activities as a hobby, I didn’t have the mind-set to pursue a creative subject in my higher education. Especially in my family we don’t have any artists, which I think has affected my perspective. However, I never regretted having my degree, since I realised –after doing internships in the Turkish Embassies to the UN- working in jobs relating to International Politics was one of my passions. At the same time, I haven’t and probably will never let go of the thought of pursuing a career in music or at least will always continue doing it as a hobby, because it just makes me happy and excited.

Maybe that’s why I chose this masters, which is a way for me to combine business and creativity, and maybe it will lead me to more opportunities in the creative sector. The amazing situation would be having a creative job and working towards a good cause! I guess, unlike my classmates who have come from a creative background like graphic design or music, and who chose this masters to learn about the business side of these industries; I feel like I have chosen it to widen my perspective towards creativity and develop an understanding of the importance of creative sectors and the creative economy. I am actually very satisfied with MACE, I feel like I am taking substantial steps towards my future job, whatever that will be. Whatever the end result is, I am enjoying the journey and well, that’s the most important part isn’t it?




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