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Global Innovation Leader Visits NZ to Cultivate Creativity

Global Innovation Leader Visits NZ to Cultivate Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson’s talks might have been viewed by 400 million people in over 160 countries these days, but he’s been telling people for decades that the way we educate children isn’t enhancing natural creativity; it’s denying it.

Stripping children of creative capability through an outdated, one-size-fits-all education system sees them grow up with a divergent thinking deficit. Naturally, this doesn’t bode well for business and human resources, which, faced with an uncertain future, need to produce an armoury of creative abilities fast.

Robinson will provide New Zealand educators and innovation-hungry corporates with the tools to find their own solutions when he makes his inaugural visit to Aotearoa in March, 2018. March 19 will see Sir Ken deliver ‘Creative schools; revolutionising education’ to educators and ‘Cultivating a culture of creativity and innovation’ will inspire business minds on March 20.

“Everyone has profound creative powers” says Robinson. “But we have to develop them. If you want people to innovate, you have to give them the skills to do that.”

Sir Ken describes building a culture of innovation as requiring three things: imagination, creativity (applied imagination) and innovation (putting good ideas into practice.) He often likens the development of such a culture to nature; a farmer provides the conditions under which seeds grow. But nurtured with incompatible conditions, the seeds will simply lay dormant in the soil.

Today’s education system is that incompatible set of conditions and at the heart of them is the fear of being wrong.

“What we do know is, if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. By the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this, by the way. We stigmatize mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make” says Robinson.

“The result is that we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Picasso once said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out if it. So why is this?”

It’s the question Robinson is answering the world over these days, and he has a breadth of scholarly and pioneering experience to draw on. He led this debate as Director of the Arts in Schools Project in England and Wales. Working with more than 2,000 teachers, artists and administrators in the mid to late 1980’s, the project influenced the formulation of the National Curriculum in England.

His international career followed quickly; today he is included in Thinkers50 list of the world’s leading business thinkers and has been named one of TIME/Fortune/CNN’s Principal Voices.

Sir Ken’s achievements also include a number of bestselling books. In 2009 he published The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – it became a New York Times best seller and is now translated into 23 languages. The third edition of his classic book Out of Our Minds: The Power of Being Creative, was published in Autumn 2017. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life joined the NYT best sellers stable in 2013 and Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education hit the shelves in 2015. His new book,You, Your Child and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education, is addressed to parents and will be published in March 2018, coinciding with his visit to New Zealand.

The career-path he trod to deliver this wisdom might seem illustrious, but Robinson’s lofty, Los Angeles based position as one of the world’s most popular thought leaders is built on some very gritty foundations. From a Liverpudlian working class family of 9, Sir Ken contracted polio at 4-year’s old and in his early years, was schooled accordingly. Around the same time his father was rendered quadriplegic in an industrial accident.

And yet this adversity produced one of the world’s most decorated speakers. As well as holding the title of Emeritus Professor at Warwick University, his credentials are populated with a string of honorary degrees and awards that complement his original doctorate from the University of London. In 2003, he received a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II for services to the arts.

Event details:



Sample of career notes:

• For twelve years, he was professor of education at the University of Warwick, and is now Professor Emeritus.

• In 1998, Robinson led a UK commission, the report of which was influential. The Times said of All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education: “This report raises some of the most important issues facing business in the 21st century. It should have every CEO and human resources director thumping the table and demanding action”.

• Sir Ken works with governments in Europe, Asia and the US, international agencies, Fortune 500 companies and leading cultural organizations.

• Sir Ken was the central figure in developing a strategy for creative and economic development as part of the Peace Process in Northern Ireland.

• Sir Ken was one of four international advisors to the Singapore Government for a strategy to become the creative hub of SE Asia.

Books summary:

• His 2009 book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything, is a New York Times best seller and has been translated into 21 languages.

• A 10th anniversary edition of his classic work on creativity and innovation, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, was published in 2011.

Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life, was published by Viking in May 2013 and is also a New York Times best seller.

• His latest book, Creative Schools: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education (Viking, 2015)

You, Your Child and School: Navigate Your Way to the Best Education, is addressed to parents and will be published in March 2018, coinciding with his visit to New Zealand.

Sample of links:

Sir Ken Robinson’s own site:

Do Schools Kill Creativity?

How to escape education’s Death Valley:

Expanding our definition of smart:

What is creativity?

Building a culture of innovation:

How to Scale Creativity in the Workplace with Ken Robinson:

How to encourage the flow of ideas:


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