Here at Be Awesome we believe that everybody is born creative and inherently awesome. As we draw closer to our first Be Awesome Festival pilot, Jane Mahoney from the BAF Dream Team puts forward a solid argument for why creativity is not just the domain of the artists, poets and musicians among us.
We are all creative. However, some of us are lead to believe otherwise from a young age and never find our way back to an understanding of just how irrefutably innately creative we all are. In school we’re taught that the realm of creativity belongs to the artists among us. Representatives of the “three R’s” (reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic) rarely trespass. Creativity is deemed a trait of those who have the motor skills to translate with their hands what they see in their minds: through drawing, through painting, through building and through music. Those who do not possess these talents are given little outlet to explore what their own creativity has to offer; as though the same neurological pathways cannot be channeled when problem solving in other areas such as math or science. Invariably the fault is found with the field, not in the standardised way it is taught. If we take time, we’ll find evidence of human creativity in every moment of our day. Everything around us, no matter how menial, started as an idea, a solution to a problem imagined by someone in our community. We’re all creative – it’s what defines us as a species.
It is our creativity that set the Homo sapien apart from other species in the genus Homo, such as Homo neanderthalansis and Homo floresiensis (we weren’t always the only bipedal humanoid creatures wandering the planet). Around 50, 000 years ago, during what is known as the “Upper Paleolithic” age, the first evidence of rock paintings, carvings, decorated ornaments and burial rituals, began to appear amongst Homo sapiens remains. It marks a change in our evolutionary history, the point at which we diverge and begin to out compete our fellow bipeds. Daniel Lieberman, chair for the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, explains in his book The Story of The Human Body, that these artistic discoveries are the hard evidence of what he believes was our burgeoning ability to work together and problem solve. “The most tangible manifestation of this change is art,” he says.
The discovery of art produced by human beings was an early indication of what Lieberman calls our, “extraordinary and special capacity… to innovate and transmit new ideas.” Lieberman suggests that it could have been this creativity that gave us the competitive edge over other species of archaic humans such as Neanderthals during the most recent ice age, when (natural) climate change drove resources to become increasingly scarce. “My guess is that Neanderthals were extremely smart,” he explains “but modern humans are more creative and communicative.”
Fast-forward 50 000 years and we’re entering a new age of creativity and climate change. It’s time to challenge how we foster creativity in our schools. Children should be encouraged to explore what creativity means to them in terms of their strengths. Future generations and ours need to call on our creativity to find solutions to the problems already reared by the strain on our planet’s resources and draw on the unique traits that made us such a successful species in the first place. This goes for every industry imaginable: from artists to IT, engineers to entrepreneurs, the future belongs to those who can take what they need from old models and innovate unburdened by what has preceded them. Now more than ever we need to help children to capture their creativity.
The inaugural Be Awesome Festival pilot is taking place in Brisbane on Saturday 23 May 2015. Follow us on Facebook to see how you can be involved and to stay up to date.