Creative genius or lack of education?

Birthday Card by Cartoon Graphics Pty Ltd

Birthday Card by Cartoon Graphics Pty Ltd

This is a birthday card I found when I was 16 and I still giggle when I look at it.

This is a rather long one today. It will be in point form. I did say I’m rather haphazard at times. Hopefully it will make sense at the end.

1. After ten years of trying to develop a second personality, one that would fit into a less creatively perceived yet stable career, I have gone full circle as I have mentioned on my About Blog page. I completed a bachelor in psychology, subsequently enrolled in the honours program when it hit me … I don’t want to counsel people, I want to teach art. So, I am going to become an art teacher. I will begin studies in 3 weeks and I will no doubt include posts about what I am learning in a teachable style so anyone else who would like to learn about art and creativity and visual culture can benefit too.

2. My eldest is in year 1 at school. He is only in his 2nd week and has already received numerous warnings that eventually led to the time out chair for talking or whistling. When I asked him why he whistled when he knew the teacher wanted silence his reply was ‘whistling is my favourite thing to do’. He was being serious, not cheeky, not defiant, serious. What helps him think? Jiggling his legs, singing, whistling, tapping, background music. If you make him sit still in complete silence, his brain freezes.

Now this son of mine is a visual learner who has excellent problem solving skills.  He was pulling boxes and toys around the house to act as stools to reach other out of bounds toys at the age of only 13 months. I couldn’t even leave a bowel of fruit on top of the piano. Our house had to be kid friendly for the 6 foot baby. Anyway, I’m not sure how we are going to handle this just yet. You are probably singing ADD??? Possibly. What I would like to point out is that kids learn differently and perhaps the problem is everyone else doesn’t have ADD. I don’t personally believe that, but it could be argued.

3. I have a fantastic book titled Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World: Unlocking the potential of your ADD child by Jeffrey Freed and Laurie Parsons. This book identifies children with ADD to be right-brained visual learners although they clarify that not a lot of research had been conducted to confirm this theory at that stage. They do however, refer to another book, In The Minds Eye by Thomas G. West, who has found compelling evidence to support this theory through surveying learning styles of great thinkers. West (as cited in Freed & Parsons, 1997) states that some of our famous historical figures such as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Lenoardo da Vinci were identified as having some form of learning disability such as dyslexia. Why did they still succeed and become great and famous despite their learning disability? West suggests that “such right-brained geniuses succeed because they cannot compensate and adapt” (cited in Freed & Parsons) to the left-brained education system and left-brained world. This begs the question, what happens to those who can adapt, even only mildly?

4. Sir Ken Robinson said “Some of the most brilliant people among us were dislocated from their natural talents by the process of being educated”. This is a link to a video of a talk by Sir Ken Robinson titled ‘The Power of the Imaginative Mind’ in which he quoted the above. It was produced in 2008 and largely geared towards pushing a reform in public school education however what he says still rings true today. Please listen if you have time (he’s quite funny and a very good speaker), if not, I will include a summary below. He believes creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy and should therefore be the centerpiece of education. He states the “highest form of intelligence is to be creative” and that being creative is the “process of having original ideas that have value”. He emphaises that the common misconception that only special people are creative is exactly that, a misconception. Instead every person is creative, some just loose their connection with it along the way.

I am not trying to convince myself that my son is a creative genius. I actually believe all children to be creative geniuses. I mean what they can imagine and how they reason with the limited knowledge they have accumulated is astounding. Some children are just different. Until I had my second son, I didn’t believe a 1 year old knew what to do with a truck or a car because all my eldest son would do is watch it fly off the verandah. If he weren’t outside, he would get a chair of course to open the door, to go outside, onto the verandah, to watch it fly.

Will forcing a left-brained education stifle a right-brained child? Would I not be a hypocrite if I, who have the desire to teach art, cultivate creativity and facilitate innovation, expect my child to sit still and freeze his brain just so he can look the part? I’m going to ask the teacher if he is allowed a stress ball in class. Something to keep another part of his body busy so his brain can start to tick over and learn, not to mention prevent further disruption to his classmates. I’ll keep you posted.


Freed, J., & Parsons, L. (1997). Right-Brained children in a left-brained world: Unlocking the potential of your ADD child. New York: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.

Side note: I have only just discovered Sir Ken Robinson!!!!! I am going to Amazon right now and ordering some of his books!!!! Where have I been these last 5 years? Oh that’s right, Nappy Street off Sleepless Lane in a town called ‘I Want to Scream’.


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