Often in our society, we judge one’s intelligence by their pragmatic and logical skills. How well can you perceive logical patterns, adapt to mechanistic and structured systems? School is mostly catered to what is often called “left brain” thinking skills (although it is by far more complicated and intricate than that). Math, science, grammar and history. In my previous blog, Alan Watts coined this as the world of “particulars.” Specifics. While this is irreducibly important to do just about anything in our world, as a society we seem to have downplayed the more chaotic, organic and creative modes of thinking. In fact, often in our society we fail to see that adapting to the world of particulars is only one form of intelligence. There are also forms of creative intelligence, and then often mixes in between the two. Creativity and science, art and geometry. The world, in other words, is not split down the middle, with one half being valued more than the other. It’s complex. Inter-related, unified from the very start. It is our own bias to think of the world as “left and right,” black and white, while in fact there is a multiplicity of colors, all of which have dynamic relationship. Intelligence is more like a spectrum than a chart, split down the middle. By seeing this, perhaps we would value our artists, our creative thinkers far more than we do at present. Even now, schools in America cut the budgets of art departments, and seek desperately for math teachers. Although it is vital to have practical intelligence, we cannot forget creative intelligence, and all that is in between.
By seeing the importance of the creative mind, the mind that does not so easily become boxed into the school systems we have created, but one that grows like a wild tree, breaking through concrete and old foundations, we can begin to evolve our own understanding of human intelligence as being quite diverse. We may in fact see that even though some of us flourish in the way the system is currently crystallized, there are far more efficient ways that could be offered. Perhaps we need these creative types to work with the pragmatic ones, to come somewhere in between the two and create systems that better reflect what it is to be a human being. In short, what we need is a better grasping of human nature, and not such a lop-sided, archaic view of the scholarly, well rounded gentleman. So, what say you? What new approaches are streaming their way as we move further into the 21st century? It’s about time we have some new ideas.
Ken Robinson is a proponent of similar ideas. Here’s a good video of his:
“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. And 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 our mistakes. And we’re now running national education systems where mistakes are the worst things you can make. And the result is, we are educating people out of their creative capacities.”