How society is killing creativity

Mrs. T showed me this interesting video the other day. I have embedded the video below. Please finish watching it before you continue reading the rest of this post. 🙂

Some thoughts about the video

  • Isn’t it sad that in the video everyone is doing the same thing every single day? Kids go to school and adults go to work. That’s the social norm. Both kids and adults in the video are so lifeless. They lack passion and joy. The dad in the video only turns back to blue because he gets energy from his kid. How many of us feel this way after a long day of work? Shouldn’t we see and treat work differently?
  • We have been told by our parents and others on how to live and what an ideal life is supposed to be like. Go to school, study hard, get good grades, go to a prestigious university, graduate with good grades, get a good job, work hard, get married, get a fancy car, live in a fancy house, climb the corporate ladder, make lots of money, work until 65 before you can finally retire, relax, and be happy. If we don’t follow these socially accepted norms, we are looked down and labeled as outcasts, just like the violin player in the video. Is the social norms the right approach for everyone? Should we blindly follow these socially accepted norms? I do not think so. Take pursuing financial independence and/or early retirement  (FIRE) for instance. Because the concept is so radically different than the socially accepted norms, people cast fear, uncertainties, and doubt with this idea. I am not saying that FIRE is the right and only approach. Rather than rejecting a new idea right away, be open to it. Don’t shut down or ridicule an idea right away without making an effort to understand it first. FIRE isn’t the right answer for everyone. If you have taken the time to understanding what FIRE is then determined that the standard freedom 65 approach is the right way for you, kudos to you. For me, financial independence is the way to go. Once I am financially independent, I have the option to decide whether I will continue working or not. I have the power. I would work because I choose to rather than have to.
  • Why does the public school system put so much focus on academic? We learn about language, math, and science at school. For the most part, the school “teachings” involve memorization rather than problem solving and logical thinking. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at any school tests. Most of them focus on memorization rather than problem solving and logical thinking. It is important to learn about language, math, and science, but it is just as important to learn about arts, music, poetry, and etc. Test grades do not and should not define whether you are smart or not. You can be book smart but lack street smart/common sense. The last thing you want is to have a kid that is book smart but cannot deal with the real life.
  • Why are we allowing the daily 9-5 grind to kill our inner child, our creativity, and our talents? Work should be a small subset of our lives. It should not dictate our lives.
  • Parents will want the best for their children. However, being a parent does not give us the rights to tell our kids what they should do with their lives. We should provide them with every possible opportunities to allow them flourish and be successful in their own ways.
  • We need to remember to enjoy the present moment and not constantly looking ahead. When we are constantly looking for the new shiny things, we forget what is important to us and what brings joy to us. If early retirement isn’t for you, there is nothing wrong with working until you are 65 or older. But please, do not develop the mindset that you can only relax when you retire. It is simply too dangerous to wait until retirement to relax and enjoy the finer things in life. Rather, learn to enjoy the present moment and cherish what you have in life right now.

Do you have any thoughts after watching the video? I would love to hear them.

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31 thoughts on “How society is killing creativity”

  1. The video made me cry actually. Admittedly I cry very easily when I watch films/TV. What a boring world an assimilated world would be. Some short films are so poignant.

  2. Wow, that hits you right in the feels! It’s so sad but sort of true… especially how our current educational system is just creating obedient little clones who take orders well… I’m glad a team of creative and observant people made that short, and thank you for sharing! Here’s to forging your own life path and creativity!

  3. Man, that was a sad video!! But thank goodness, the father realized the stifling of creativity and course corrected!

    As a father now, I hope that I will instill in my son creativity and the belief that anything is possible. I want him to think of different ways to learn, product, and lead a good and productive life.

    I have hope thanks to the internet and so much creation now! Part of the reason why I Wrote the post, What If You Go To Harvard And End Up A Nobody, is b/c all these kids are graduating and doing the same thing. Seems like such a waste of intelligence, always just chasing money, forever. It’s not fulfilling.


  4. An interesting little video but sad that all those people felt that they had no choice but to work in dull, energy-sapping jobs.

    Whilst kids don’t have a choice but to go to school to learn (perhaps the kid should have been given violin lessons outside of school to tap into his creativity), adults can always choose not to have a career that is just mindless drudgery, whether they are striving for FI or not.

  5. The video is too simplistic, but what could we expect from an 8-minute video. I think there is still plenty of opportunity in society to break out of those soul crippling routines. You do have to have some independent thought and problem-solving skills to do that though. I thought the video did a good job of pointing that out when the student was discouraged from” enhancing” his letters.
    I think that is the thing our conveyor belt educational system does a poor job of cultivating. There is a time to conform to industry standards, but there should also be some encouragement to stand up to authority and think outside the box. Individuals that do that end up being those that lead society to innovative ideas.
    There is a book called “The Thomas Jefferson Education” that does a great job of highlighting the negative aspects of our current educational system. You should check it out if you have time. It might influence how you decide to educate your kids. Thanks for sharing that video. I’ll definitely be showing it to our friends in our homeschool co-ops and see what they think.

    • Yes the video is too simplistic but it gets the idea across. Outside of box thinking should be more encouraged with the current educational system IMO. I will have to get out that book, thanks for mention.

  6. The video is nice, but it’s too simplistic. It probably won’t work out if the dad quit and become a street musician. Sometime, you just have to work and provide for the family. Of course, that’s not the only way. If you don’t enjoy work, then try a different way to provide for the family. I think we all just need to take more chances and not be afraid to fail. Most of us are afraid to try something new and it’s holding us back.
    Yes, school is not that great, but that’s the easiest way to find a career. I want my kid to do well in school and I’ll encourage him to study hard. When he’s done with school, then he can do whatever he wants. We’ll see how it goes.

    • Yes it’s a bit simple but it gets the message across. Yes you need money to support for the family and all but what I am saying here is that don’t blindly follow the society norms. I went through a very challenging engineering program, had doubts about it during university, but now I’m very happy and glad that I majored in engineering.

  7. There is a place for order and there is a place for creativity. When you have a classroom full of 20 – 30 students, I’m not sure that understanding the importance of order should be under appreciated. Is it really the school’s fault though? You have options on where your kids to go school, right?

    You don’t want the flight manual to be printed in funny, colorful pages do you?!? But you can certainly try to have the flight crew be energetic and entertaining.

    You don’t want street lights to randomly change colors or all be green at the same time, do you?!?

    We leave way too much up to society and even want to place way to much blame upon them. It is the parents job to train up their children.

    Two of our children have a penchant for mischief. When they started school we told them, there would be a lot of kids and one of their roles would be to be helpful, not be a distraction. Throughout their school years, they were model citizens at school. But what to do with all of that pent up energy? When they got home, they would be allowed to cut lose a little bit.

    So playing the violin in the park is great. And maybe you can make a living doing that. But, maybe you can’t. So from 8 to 5, you work your job and from 5 – 7, you entertain people with your violin. Then come 7 most of the traffic is gone and you have an easy commute home.

    There is a place for both order and creativity. Both are important. Both are in fact up to you. :O)

    • What I’m saying is not just focus 100% on academics or creativity, but finding the right balance. If a kid is very creative but not interested in academia, is there a point to force the kid down a academia path?

  8. Yes, the video depicts the exact situation in our surroundings these days. The only way to stop this killing creativity is by encouraging the practical education.Its good to let the children present what he knows and know his view on any piece of knowledge rather than pushing every child in the same way to learn the things and making it conventional.

  9. I don’t know where the guy with the violin disappeared, but it made me sad!

    Our parents told us how to comply to society norms because it was probably the only thing they knew would work. It’s not always their fault, society has been living in a box for generations.

    I’ve actually had a serious talk about this with my parents a few years ago. I’ve been living on my own since before I became an ‘official adult’ and moved hundreds of miles away at 21. My dad wanted to know the real reason I didn’t choose the same path as most of my former school mates. My instant reply was: I’ve always disliked living by other people’s rules.

    I always got good grades, finished high-school, got into college and found a job. I was doing everything “right” yet I still felt “grey” like the guy in the video.

    There’s nothing wrong with living in a box. It works great for some people. It’s safer and, I assume, much easier. But it’s not for everyone.

    Many fail to see we’re all different human beings and instead of thinking “hey, that guy plays violin really well!” they judge and point fingers. And that’s not OK.

    • It’s definitely not their fault. A lot of the teachings from our parents are simply passed down knowledge. Passed down knowledge, unfortunately, do contain some inherent time bias.

      That’s great that you had a serious talk about your parents that you didn’t like living by other people’s rules. Good for you to step outside of the box and live with your own rules.

  10. Love the message Bob. Passion fuels our energy, creativity and enthusiasm for life. It’s a shame more people don’t have time to embrace those passions.

    • That’s Mr. Tako. I just hope that there are more ppl like me and you to teach younger generations to take path with their hearts rather than to go where the money is.

  11. Make me think about the TED talk “School kills Creativity” see here
    Despite some attempts to improve the system, our society revolves around money. Without money it is pretty much impossible to survive (few notable exceptions). It’s not strange that our educational system is setup to cater to this state of affairs. You cannot really fight this, but you can use the system to you advantage (read FIRE).
    But here is a questions for you, how are you going to raise your kids? They will need some form of education and (initially at least) a job to survive, but you want to give them the room to be creative at the same time too. This may not always and easy balance. We are cognisant of this too and have not really figured out yet how we will tackle this challenge. One thing we do know, we will not force our daughter to do anything she does not want and will encourage her to follow her heart rather than her head where possible.

    • Will have to check out the TED talk later.

      Yes society revolves around money hence the educational system is set up to cater this. I just think we need to get away from the thinking of one must go to the best school, get good grades, and get the highest paying job possible. It’s about fulfilling your life goals and desires.

      Good question about how to raise our kids. Both Mrs. T and I believe in encouraging creativity and we aren’t too worried about the academics (after all, we are both brainy nerds and figured our kids will be the same). I’m 15+ years ahead of myself here but one thing we need to do is avoid pushing our kids down a specific career path (i.e. doctor, engineer, lawyer, etc). Rather, we need to let them figure out what they want to do with their lives. If they want to become professional chefs, professional photographers, professional athletes, I will not discourage them from doing so. Along the way I will help them understand the pros and cons of their decisions and what that may mean for them in the future. My parents were like that when I was growing up and I hope to do something similar as well.

  12. My first thought… that was depressing but you hit all the major points about what really does matter or should matter in our lives. Too often we get caught up in what we “should” do instead of what we “want” to do and that often leads to a sad lifestyle. Thanks for sharing.

  13. I must comment on. this video. I taught in the elementary school system (Metro Vancouver) for years and the video does not depict what it is like. I hope that gives you some reassurance. There are many opportunities for children to be creative and creativity is encouraged. I loved to see original thinkers and unique ideas. I must admit that subjects like music and art are not given the priority they could be and are always under threat of cuts. As well, since they are taught by the classroom teacher the quality of instruction and development depends upon that teacher’s talent and interest.

    Society including parents expects their children to learn how to read and write and do math. There would be an uproar if that mandate was not fulfilled. Sometimes there is a certain amount of tedium and routine. We have a duty to prepare children for a life that does include some of that. But in my experience there is also a lot of fun and variety and as a job teaching provides that as well. That said, parents have a part to play. My children all took piano lessons for a few years until they insisted they wanted to discontinue them and two of them went on to become excellent musicians. One even plays the violin as in the video! We travelled a lot and enjoyed the enrichment that can provide.

    We didn’t find high school as rewarding and three of my five children ended up doing Distance Education. The one who attended a prestigious private school which you will know the name of if you’re in Vancouver, was the one that required three hours of homework each evening and had students work on the curriculum two grades above. We only stayed there for a year and it wasn’t worth the money.

    There’s always room for improvement, of course. There are educational cutbacks every year and teachers end up going on strike for any reasonable pay increase. My youngest daughter is finishing up her teacher education program this year and I have been pleased with the quality of what is required of her. So take hope!

    • I’m very happy to hear that the educational system is not as dark and gloomy as I described. I have to say, the Canadian educational system (at least in metro Vancouver) is far better than the ones I went through in Taiwan when it comes to encouraging kids. Taiwan was very much academic focused with exams after exams (mind you this was 20 years ago and it may have changed for the better). Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s extremely important to learn language and math; language provides the basis of analytical thinking and math provides the basis of problem solving skills. But that doesn’t mean you should focus on these two and ignore all the creative skills. Too many parents push kids into sports, art, and music when the kids have no interests in them. It’s far more beneficial to enroll kids in something they are truly interested in.

      I had some excellent high school teachers whom encouraged analytical thinking, problem solving, and thinking outside of the box. But there were some not so good teachers that did not inspire me at all. Rather, these teachers just taught using the already-used transparency slides on projectors (hey this was 15+ years ago) and taught the same thing they did when they first started teaching. Monkey see, monkey do… that shouldn’t be the way we teach our kids.

      Baby T1.0 is in pre school and I have been encouraged by how wonderful the teachers are. I have hope for the educational system.

  14. It was a good (and both sad) movie to watch. After watching it, the first thing I thought of was that sometimes it doesn’t have be like that. I got inspired by the blue guy to take matter in own hands and just do what makes you happy. You can probably look it from both ways at the same time. I do agree with the education systems and work environments are totally lacking in empowering people in the right way. Luckily you already seeing the standard social standards change, where new potential gets unlocked in many different ways.

    • It’s important to take matter in your own hands and do things that make you happy. Fortunately the society is changing. FIRE is becoming more and more prominent in the media which can only be a good thing I think.

  15. Interesting and sad short film. We often just follow the footsteps of past generations, good and bad. The last 30 years or so we have seen a lot of changes, and those old models just don’t work any longer. We can’t be afraid to breakout and take new paths, try new things, and once and for all we need to stop caring so much about what other non-important people in our life think.

    • There have been a lot of changes the last 30 years or so. Some changes are good, some are bad. What we need to focus on is to encourage people and kids to take new paths rather than ridicule them and putting them on paths that aren’t suited for them.


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