The other day I was headed into a cafe to meet a friend for lunch when I walked by a man at an outside table reading a book open to a page with a photo of human figures sculpted in metal. Continuing toward the door I felt the invisible hand of intuition turn me around to ask for the name of the book. It turned out to be something, I definitely wanted to read, titled The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World written in collaboration by a musical composer and a neuroscientist.
At the heart of the book is a discussion about the way humanity, with a brain wired for novelty and innovation, is continually remaking our world through the creative process, drawing on all that has been created before then rearranging or adding something new. The authors distill this remaking process into the three Bs: bending, breaking and blending.
Bending involves changing something like adding air bags to make a safer automobile; breaking involves taking things apart and putting them back together in a new way and blending involves combining two separate images or ideas, like creating the mythic Pegasus by giving wings to a horse.
The book is loaded with examples of the three Bs starting with the astounding creativity involved in the dramatic rescue of the Apollo 13 astronauts who were miraculously brought home to earth after the explosion in the command module on the way to the moon. In the same breath it talks about the way Picasso used the different aspect of recombination to revolutionize painting.
No culture in human history has been without its music, visual art and storytelling as part of the remaking process. This emphasis on creativity at the heart of youthful expression and discovery is not reflected in most of our school systems where the curriculum was designed to meet the needs of the industrial revolution.
In this fast changing world focusing on creativity can make a big difference in effective education. An elementary school in Burlington, Vermont, in an extremely disadvantaged area, was failing to meet even basic standards when they decided to add the arts to every part of the curriculum. This completely turned everything around. The students began to thrive and the school became a model within a few years.
The authors stress that creativity is now seen as a necessity in the modern workplace. The world today can use everyone embracing their creative urges. It can a big difference in their own live and communities. The question is how does each of us want to contribute to humanity’s continually remaking of the world and what do we want to create.
Footnote: Keep in mind that everyone is creative. It's a basic human capacity that can be learned and expanded. If you'd like a little help and have not yet received a copy of my free ebooklet Setting Your Creativity Free just enter your name and email in the box at the top right of the page and I’ll email it to you as a pdf download.