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  • Good morning. How are you? It's been great, hasn't it?

  • I've been blown away by the whole thing.

  • In fact, I'm leaving. (Laughter)

  • There have been three themes, haven't there,

  • running through the conference, which are relevant

  • to what I want to talk about.

  • One is the extraordinary evidence of human creativity

  • in all of the presentations that we've had

  • and in all of the people here. Just the variety of it

  • and the range of it. The second is that

  • it's put us in a place where we have no idea what's going to happen,

  • in terms of the future. No idea

  • how this may play out.

  • I have an interest in education --

  • actually, what I find is everybody has an interest in education.

  • Don't you? I find this very interesting.

  • If you're at a dinner party, and you say

  • you work in education --

  • actually, you're not often at dinner parties, frankly, if you work in education.

  • (Laughter) You're not asked.

  • And you're never asked back, curiously. That's strange to me.

  • But if you are, and you say to somebody,

  • you know, they say, "What do you do?"

  • and you say you work in education,

  • you can see the blood run from their face. They're like,

  • "Oh my God," you know, "Why me? My one night out all week." (Laughter)

  • But if you ask about their education,

  • they pin you to the wall. Because it's one of those things

  • that goes deep with people, am I right?

  • Like religion, and money and other things.

  • I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do.

  • We have a huge vested interest in it,

  • partly because it's education that's meant to

  • take us into this future that we can't grasp.

  • If you think of it, children starting school this year

  • will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue --

  • despite all the expertise that's been on parade for the past four days --

  • what the world will look like

  • in five years' time. And yet we're meant

  • to be educating them for it. So the unpredictability, I think,

  • is extraordinary.

  • And the third part of this is that

  • we've all agreed, nonetheless, on the

  • really extraordinary capacities that children have --

  • their capacities for innovation. I mean, Sirena last night was a marvel,

  • wasn't she? Just seeing what she could do.

  • And she's exceptional, but I think she's not, so to speak,

  • exceptional in the whole of childhood.

  • What you have there is a person of extraordinary dedication

  • who found a talent. And my contention is,

  • all kids have tremendous talents.

  • And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.

  • So I want to talk about education and

  • I want to talk about creativity. My contention is that

  • creativity now is as important in education as literacy,

  • and we should treat it with the same status.

  • (Applause) Thank you. That was it, by the way.

  • Thank you very much. (Laughter) So, 15 minutes left.

  • Well, I was born ... no. (Laughter)

  • I heard a great story recently -- I love telling it --

  • of a little girl who was in a drawing lesson. She was six

  • and she was at the back, drawing,

  • and the teacher said this little girl hardly ever

  • paid attention, and in this drawing lesson she did.

  • The teacher was fascinated and she went over to her

  • and she said, "What are you drawing?"

  • And the girl said, "I'm drawing a picture of God."

  • And the teacher said, "But nobody knows what God looks like."

  • And the girl said, "They will in a minute."

  • (Laughter)

  • When my son was four in England --

  • actually he was four everywhere, to be honest. (Laughter)

  • If we're being strict about it, wherever he went, he was four that year.

  • He was in the Nativity play.

  • Do you remember the story? No, it was big.

  • It was a big story. Mel Gibson did the sequel.

  • You may have seen it: "Nativity II." But James got the part of Joseph,

  • which we were thrilled about.

  • We considered this to be one of the lead parts.

  • We had the place crammed full of agents in T-shirts:

  • "James Robinson IS Joseph!" (Laughter)

  • He didn't have to speak, but you know the bit

  • where the three kings come in. They come in bearing gifts,

  • and they bring gold, frankincense and myrhh.

  • This really happened. We were sitting there

  • and I think they just went out of sequence,

  • because we talked to the little boy afterward and we said,

  • "You OK with that?" And he said, "Yeah, why? Was that wrong?"

  • They just switched, that was it.

  • Anyway, the three boys came in --

  • four-year-olds with tea towels on their heads --

  • and they put these boxes down,

  • and the first boy said, "I bring you gold."

  • And the second boy said, "I bring you myrhh."

  • And the third boy said, "Frank sent this." (Laughter)

  • What these things have in common is that kids will take a chance.

  • If they don't know, they'll have a go.

  • Am I right? They're not frightened of being wrong.

  • Now, I don't mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative.

  • What we do know is,

  • if you're not prepared to be wrong,

  • you'll never come up with anything original --

  • if you're not prepared to be wrong. 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 mistakes. And we're now running

  • national education systems where

  • mistakes are the worst thing you can make.

  • And the result is that we are educating people out of

  • their creative capacities. Picasso once said this --

  • he 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?

  • I lived in Stratford-on-Avon until about five years ago.

  • In fact, we moved from Stratford to Los Angeles.

  • So you can imagine what a seamless transition that was.

  • (Laughter) Actually,

  • we lived in a place called Snitterfield,

  • just outside Stratford, which is where

  • Shakespeare's father was born. Are you struck by a new thought? I was.

  • You don't think of Shakespeare having a father, do you?

  • Do you? Because you don't think of

  • Shakespeare being a child, do you?

  • Shakespeare being seven? I never thought of it. I mean, he was

  • seven at some point. He was in

  • somebody's English class, wasn't he? How annoying would that be?

  • (Laughter) "Must try harder." Being sent to bed by his dad, you know,

  • to Shakespeare, "Go to bed, now,"

  • to William Shakespeare, "and put the pencil down.

  • And stop speaking like that. It's confusing everybody."

  • (Laughter)

  • Anyway, we moved from Stratford to Los Angeles,

  • and I just want to say a word about the transition, actually.

  • My son didn't want to come.

  • I've got two kids. He's 21 now; my daughter's 16.

  • He didn't want to come to Los Angeles. He loved it,

  • but he had a girlfriend in England. This was the love of his life, Sarah.

  • He'd known her for a month.

  • Mind you, they'd had their fourth anniversary,

  • because it's a long time when you're 16.

  • Anyway, he was really upset on the plane,

  • and he said, "I'll never find another girl like Sarah."

  • And we were rather pleased about that, frankly,

  • because she was the main reason we were leaving the country.

  • (Laughter)

  • But something strikes you when you move to America

  • and when you travel around the world:

  • Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects.

  • Every one. Doesn't matter where you go.

  • You'd think it would be otherwise, but it isn't.

  • At the top are mathematics and languages,

  • then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts.

  • Everywhere on Earth.

  • And in pretty much every system too,

  • there's a hierarchy within the arts.

  • Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools

  • than drama and dance. There isn't an education system on the planet

  • that teaches dance everyday to children

  • the way we teach them mathematics. Why?

  • Why not? I think this is rather important.

  • I think math is very important, but so is dance.

  • Children dance all the time if they're allowed to, we all do.

  • We all have bodies, don't we? Did I miss a meeting?

  • (Laughter) Truthfully, what happens is,

  • as children grow up, we start to educate them

  • progressively from the waist up. And then we focus on their heads.

  • And slightly to one side.

  • If you were to visit education, as an alien,

  • and say "What's it for, public education?"

  • I think you'd have to conclude -- if you look at the output,

  • who really succeeds by this,

  • who does everything that they should,

  • who gets all the brownie points, who are the winners --

  • I think you'd have to conclude the whole purpose of public education

  • throughout the world

  • is to produce university professors. Isn't it?

  • They're the people who come out the top.

  • And I used to be one, so there. (Laughter)

  • And I like university professors, but you know,

  • we shouldn't hold them up as the high-water mark of all human achievement.

  • They're just a form of life,

  • another form of life. But they're rather curious,

  • and I say this out of affection for them.

  • There's something curious about professors in my experience --

  • not all of them, but typically -- they live in their heads.

  • They live up there, and slightly to one side.

  • They're disembodied, you know, in a kind of literal way.

  • They look upon their body

  • as a form of transport for their heads, don't they?

  • (Laughter) It's a way of getting their head to meetings.

  • If you want real evidence of out-of-body experiences,

  • by the way, get yourself along to a residential conference

  • of senior academics,

  • and pop into the discotheque on the final night.

  • (Laughter) And there you will see it -- grown men and women

  • writhing uncontrollably, off the beat,

  • waiting until it ends so they can go home and write a paper about it.

  • Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability.

  • And there's a reason.

  • The whole system was invented -- around the world, there were

  • no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century.

  • They all came into being

  • to meet the needs of industrialism.

  • So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas.

  • Number one, that the most useful subjects for work

  • are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away

  • from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked,

  • on the grounds that you would

  • never get a job doing that. Is that right?

  • Don't do music, you're not going to be a musician;

  • don't do art, you won't be an artist.

  • Benign advice -- now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world

  • is engulfed in a revolution.

  • And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate

  • our view of intelligence,

  • because the universities designed the system in their image.

  • If you think of it, the whole system

  • of public education around the world is a protracted process

  • of university entrance.

  • And the consequence is that many highly talented,

  • brilliant, creative people think they're not,

  • because the thing they were good at at school

  • wasn't valued, or was actually stigmatized.

  • And I think we can't afford to go on that way.

  • In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO,

  • more people worldwide will be graduating

  • through education than since the beginning of history.

  • More people, and it's the combination

  • of all the things we've talked about --

  • technology and its transformation effect on work, and demography

  • and the huge explosion in population.

  • Suddenly, degrees aren't worth anything. Isn't that true?

  • When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job.

  • If you didn't have a job it's because you didn't want one.

  • And I didn't want one, frankly. (Laughter)

  • But now kids with degrees are often

  • heading home to carry on playing video games,

  • because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA,

  • and now you need a PhD for the other.

  • It's a process of academic inflation.

  • And it indicates the whole structure of education

  • is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink

  • our view of intelligence.

  • We know three things about intelligence.

  • One, it's diverse. We think about the world in all the ways

  • that we experience it. We think visually,