« Freakonomics Radio

355. Where Does Creativity Come From (and Why Do Schools Kill It Off)?

2018-10-25 | 🔗

Family environments and “diversifying experiences” (including the early death of a parent); intrinsic versus extrinsic motivations; schools that value assessments, but don't assess the things we value. All these elements factor into the long, mysterious march towards a creative life. To learn more, we examine the early years of Ai Weiwei, Rosanne Cash, Elvis Costello, Maira Kalman, Wynton Marsalis, Jennifer Egan, and others. (Ep. 2 of the “How to Be Creative” series.)

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If you like, to listen to freak animals, radio without ads the place to do that is still premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that still premium dot com promo code, freak thanks. I don't know Stan. Why you're not in prison in China. It sounds like obviously did it for a little while why daily truce, I try think about it under this suddenly just this moment, lies Lancer. The two, in China is not large enough to put me. What do you mean I'm just too large, My ideas penetrates the war,
Are your ideas big enough to penetrate walls? His apparently are. Mr Ai Weiwei. Sixty one years old, I was born banking. Fifty seven inventing China The year I was born, my father was sound in our previous episode. We asked the art economist David, Gallons, and to name a true creative genius I way way, is a giant. I I believe, is not only the most important painter in the world is the most important person in art. Ai Weiwei has changed the world, you know with his heart. He made a contribution to political discourse this is a unique person in art almost in the last years. So we went to Berlin to visit. I went away We interviewed him in his subterranean studio of former brewery in the former EAST Berlin, and how do you describe what you do now that is
computer because it's profession because- and I did this- relates to a so called art, so people call me artist but since I have been also working in funding, humor eyes or freedom of speech or human condition. So calmly activist you care what people call you don't really care. I think I'll leave my life. I do care if I stood We come next morning I don't care, carry vodka want. Those could become my song. You can see why people are confused by what exactly I way way is, or does he spends a lot of time making things, but also a lot of time on twitter calling out institutional? talk receives cruelties. You once created a museum piece comprised of a hundred million handmade porcelain, sunflower seed. He also made a series of photographs in which he drops
dynasty earned to the ground and smashes at two bits lately. consumed with the global refugee crisis. He hung fourteen thousand life vests. And Berlin's main concert hall installed. A sprawling public art project in New York called good fences, make good neighbours. and he made a documentary film called human flow. The came here and told them look, there's no way of Anna papers to continue either you go voluntarily or arrested. Ai Weiwei enduring obsession has been to stick his finger in the eye of the chinese government he helped design the Olympic Stadium for Beijing's two thousand eight games, but by the time was built, he'd attack the organizers for cronyism and corruption. After that two thousand the earthquake in Sichuan that killed tens of thousands. He launched a citizens, investigation into the poorly built schools where so many children died? He got
up the mangled rebar from quake sites and he turned it into a sculpture called street. When the government placed him under surveillance. He responded by making this helped her called surveillance cameras in doesnt eleven I way was kidnapped and jailed by the chinese government upon being set free. He decided it was best to leave China. Since I was born out of the sea as some of the enemy of the people they see you are dangerous, see you're someone who, potential tool to make big trouble, they were right. There perfectly it's better. I try to live up to that. Canada, sue. I must, on the one hand it weighs father. I Ching was a prominent poet in intellectual or the communist revolution. He was considered a leftist subversive when MAO took over kings
Now in the new regimes, good graces, but eventually fell out of favour in the family was exiled from Beijing some European Single province, which Scooby Desert spend about eighteen years in that location. So when you were a kid you're growing we call them labour camps or re education camps. I don't know what you call it re education camps to make you to become a bad her part of society. It didn't seem to have worked on. You did it now the work on me. Well, if the state was trying to re educate you, you got that right is very important, because beauty, a reactionary, twas, a scandal. Brainwash are three time limit: individuals, rights and freedom of speech. So you
you it somehow immune to this kind of attacks for several years, the family lived underground in a cavern for two decades. I Ching did not write My father says so scared he, no single day he comes home. None not. The feed, the shaking because he's so mistreated and he tried to kill himself several times. I understand is tempted three times how did he try You know he once electric cars how to combat socket circuit. Of course all light one off because the shortage and the ones they tried. Hang himself Andy so lucky they always loosen, and you are teenager then or younger- was about eight or nine, and did you know what happened at? The latter had told me
concerning. I way ways of bringing at least two questions come to mind both of them probably unanswerable the first. What are the odds that that boy living in a labour camp in the goby desert would become one of the most influential artists in the world and how much did that environment have to do with whom he became today and economics. Radio. The second episode in our series called how to be creative ideas, big enough to penetrate walls. Where do they come from? How does and artists or inventors, family and backgrounds? they are creative lives will hear from well known creatives, who are the offspring of well known, creatives like the singer and writer Roseanne Cash. Well, that was complicated for me, because my dad was a very famous musician will look at what science can tell us about the predictors of creativity. This factors,
so powerful tat. You can actually tell by going to say dorm room college, we'll talk, how well or even if our schools incur creativity, I dont think its impact. To reorient the way we teach it's not going to be easy, but I think we can do it. I think we have to do it and the small topic of how Creativity and family intersect did you say small topic. My gun, from stature and debonnair productions. This is great economic, radio, the explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your house, Stephen definite.
I way childhood was of course a typical and a lot of his art is clearly a response to families, treatment during China's cultural revolution? But is there any way to say that his up, He was a cause of his creativity here. That's very important. We are they have a term for I we call it diversifying experiences, dean, silent and is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California Davis. He spent decades studying the biographies of great artists and scientists. To help understand where creativity comes from. What diversify and experiences me Is your exposed to one or more events in childhood or adolescence? That puts you. different track from everybody else. So, instead of being re, just like all the other kids on your block conventional fashion, you off
didn't find yourself different. You see yourself as different. You have different goals, and these diversify experiences can take a lot of different forms. And often you look in the eyes of a lot of creative genius. Is you seem more than one of them operating suit, so you're saying that diversifying influences would lead would tend to lead to high creativity, then you tend to lead to creative genius I didn't realize that he was spy untold in hours, a teenager, that's the scientist, Pat Brown. He grew up all over the world in Paris, type pay more Cindy see where I figured out was a good friend of mine. My dad was his boss and away, and he made some mention the fact that his dad work for the CIA in its own law. That's where, because I don t it for a time, brown was best known as an inventor of a method of genetic analysis called the DNA Microbial RE, which has become useful for the study of cancer.
Was this research primarily within the context of solving cancer addressing cancer; no! No! They originally was lets it. Let's put this, why it's kind of hard to for so many of these things at that You know I would do or mean any scientists would do it sorry there's a single reason. Why you're doing it, you just realize it. If we could do this, there's always call things that you could apply to ok and and in fact you know in the early days when we had first got this thing working. You We had a few good ideas. There is reason enough to do it and then, as you're she's doing experimentalize, or we could do this or we could do this until a few years ago, Anne was a sort of high end researcher without portfolio at Stanford. Then he took ass a lift turn and founded start up with rather modest goals. I am
currently the ceo and found it impossible foods we is a company whose mission is to completely replace animals as a food action technology by twenty thirty five. I asked Brown whether he saw any connection between his globe, trotting childhood, with CIA dad and scientific career the fact that I travelled and lived in multiple place in the world, and- and you know in those days The kids are a lot more like free range at a young age, and I felt like I had a lot of free to explore all these places and so forth. I think hadn't. Pact on me and send said it just made, me aware of the fact that there is basically no place on earth that's inaccessible, probably base of everything that I do is a fantastic curiosity about people intense empathy that we're all in this in this kind of world
struggling, we're all heroic to just up in the morning? That's my recount and I am in illustrator and author man, she's got a son, my name Alex Tillman and I am a designer the reader, a creative director writer and editor ah and summer, with generally many ants in their parents can one or both of you you can take turns you can interact whatever you want just described briefly, the family in its a small object, but just a little bit about the family growing up in an and until now did you say that's a small topic guy, that's an epic I get in at that's the epic topic. There is no there's no bigger topic than the fan. Myra Common is best known for her children's books and her illustrated edition of the elements of style and her work for the new Yorker quitting one of its most famous covers ever called New York. Stan you dont know it go. Look it up.
Work, manages to be whimsical and melancholy at once, paintings of cake and dogs and Demure old, ladys and pluming hats she once bought a pair of the conductor are true Toscanini pants at auction just to have them actually bought the whole suit right. Pants. Have there have a lot more panache? When you say his pants, for you where's, my were common was best known as the right hand, woman to her husband, keyboard common, a wildly creative and influential designer. He died young nearly twenty years ago when there the children were young I've known them since around that time, pretend I don't know either of you at all and and we're sitting next to each other on an airplane or something- and I say,
who are you owe you guys are mother? You know tell me a little bit about yourselves. What kind of family was this? What word you live in? What was that household like think we're, safe, do you mind if we swap seats so that we don't have to sit next to each other? On this, we prefer not to talk actually here. I'm gonna be business class and he's going to Munich cigar Alex admirer. Our collaborators to decrease, Did an installation called Sarah Berman's closet, Sarah Berman being Myers mother? Now it's grandmother and the installation consisted of the contents of Sarah Closet, artfully curated and arranged its appeared, at the Metropolitan Museum of ART in New York, so I was curious what the common house was late, to grow up in it was a really joy, fall and kind of wild and fun childhood
We are all very listen. We went on many adventures and days were filled with with looking around and making books you're, bored and cooking dinner and listening? to music from all corners of the earth and just a real, really deep exposure to everything and anything that was familiar in our day to day. And I thought that house, where we're, making books and. dancing and making costumes and turning the furniture upside down is? That's? U care! How could you not do that? So the creativity it in the home in the family was a sense of play. the sense of loving language north and music. By think that you know real creativity, isn't this thought to say? Ok, now, let's be creative, it's just a kind of a nap
oh feeling or understanding of saying this is all opportunity to play with all these rules are opportunity to cry new rules, are Ben certain rules and the joy and kind of that type of experimentation and that type of play, hopefully with some results that is meaningful or foller profounder funnier entertaining my parents to their enormous credit, were really not that pushy. That's Poseur Nikko mutually the youngest person to ever have a commission from the metropolitan opera in New York. He grew up in New England with a painter mom and a documentary filmmaker dead end then it's the usual. You have to be drawn.
the thing and then you have to get all the books and- and you have to kind of pay for these classes and one of them, so they were really great about that. But it wasn't it wasn't this version of the thing where it's like we're. Gonna prep press, you so hard to become a concert: violinist nor was it. You know, isn't this acute hobby, but you need to work for Goldman Sachs. I think they they found the good the good middle point. You know it's less about them being artists and more that them creating a household in which I is were spoken about and I think that's the real luxury of my childhood was was now necessarily being surrounded by art in that way, but by people who read and thought about a million things and channel that into not just artistic expression than me. I think we all know we? We ought we all Her strikes a people raised by artists, horror story. maybe but also success stories growing up in a creative.
Sold, means learning not only that a creative life is possible, but if pay attention you can learn how to do it. That was the case with Elvis Costello the singular singer songwriter, whose father the singer with a popular danced band. Nobody would them, as happened the slightest but the leader jealousy, they managed to front banned from the lake twenties to the to the It is you know he was a remarkable character in english light entertainment they weren't fighting means up with them control, vibe or anything like that, young Elvis. Actually, his name was Declan Mcmanus back then young Declan would hang out in the darkened balcony. Of the Hammersmith Pele in London during the ban Saturday afternoon Set watching father emerge into the limelight in jacket and tie which is why, to this day, Elvis Costello pretty much always wears the jacket and tie you have
of admiration for your parents ability to do whatever it as I do. That was just you know that was one perspective of performance and he brought music into the house that he was learning for the weekly broadcast. I dont after my parents supper Hey did you know he? His life transformed he he then sort of, took an appearance closer to sort of Peter Cell and what's new pussycat egos hey along and they ve started where fashionable clothes and listen to contemporary music because he left the safety of the nightly gig with the time span then decided. You want to do his own thing so that I out being independent thing was sort of like from his example. No matter what the music was, all the style and Burma. My tastes and music changed us like any teenager from every. It was all about one thing than stay. It was all about another em. It was always about the song. I'd in the last two years, schooling and Liverpool, which at that time was musically, very
by it and the early seventies and try My own way playing my own songs had a partner we sang in bars and any evening where they would lead us on the stage really were making a tiny little bits of money. Just back covered our expenses and learn a little bit how to do it, but never really thought that I was in how I looked at the the television. Ray Thursday to see top of the parts and saw the distance between the way I look and fell and sounded, and what was Pop singer write them, which was a lot of people in Baker Foil with I make upon that was that was and the music of that moment the glades among glam moment that seem very distant, from a seventeen year old, you know you kind of wish. You could do that now. I ever wanted to do that. I might be there any person in english pop music. But do you know that made a record that never wanted to be David Bowery, while still loving everything he did
my father really struggled a leaves could make money play modern, gist, witten. Marseilles is one of the most celebrated musicians alive, a jazz, an classical trumpeter who also composes too choose and runs the landmark jazz at Lincoln Centre Programme. His father Ellis Marseilles is also an accomplished. Jazz musician caterpillar We place great musicians, butter, people in really wanna hear to style of music. They will play in the nineteen sixty and seventy one I was growing up in New Orleans. The dominant popular music was funk and aren't be not the modern jazz. His father played yeah grown up around the music. So my father NAM lady listener amusing. No one else listening to her, but I heard it so Ellis Marseilles supported the family by teaching. Well, my daddy
the first jobs. My father here pay like five thousand dollars a year six times ass, he was a band erected for four segregated high school students in towns like Opera loses Louisiana Progress, Louisiana, but Alice was still an info. and shall musician in New Orleans and for his son decisions got people in a neighborhood respected him for his opinions ass, you can see the jail, they know stuff. You know the barbershop awesome and also because in barber shop at the height of kind of black nationalism, my father was ways the one who was not nationalistic and it was great embarrassment for me now be sent me. Why you why you always talk in this disagrees with everybody is saying, and he would always be very philosophical man. You do you know what tag people is not there. You got me tell the people in front of you, but they don't want to hear and he was he was always a big. What do you suppose they all of everybody? Never does anything that if you said they he would always a who. Is they me
you tell me you ve is, do you know them tat would enable wins. Mother was also big influence, my mama was unique. Is yet another region originality? There was a lack food taste, different. She had we do most of her. She was a big creative kind of person. She decorated your house, I understand with artistic everything about you, know everything she. She group views from the projects so she's very unusual, because she was very much the street element, which has become a cliche now than it was in his cliched. she was too to also but was offered to graduate from car but she went to. Grumbling university is extremely intelligent term suggest ability to to do. She could do my chemistry homework when I was in high school in any any color spatial problem. She understood, but she also had a very deep social consciousness. That was not that, once it was not cliche in winter Sal is distinguished himself at a very young age. I played the dear hydraulic control
nor I, for my part, I was forty in Brandenburg. Concerto with the norm is youth orchestra, when I was sixteen, did you recognise that trumpet was gonna, be what you're good at well. not till I was twelve There I was gonna be interested in it and then up it. Was this amount of applying practicing his stuff so now notice? If you practice, you got better the guy, my neighborhood, was always picked on and he'd. He saw. Lee into the dragon, and he decided to get some non shocks. a man, he was windy, sticks and then all of a sudden, it maybe like five month, swinging six everyday day, he virtuoso, also ed Then it was no more picking on him, calling in fact taken his money stubbed, if you like to do him of a sudden, say fat comes, Wyndham sticks You know it ends. Fettes is it really name was Theodore, we call of devil. We win a country can Louisiana blacks. I segregated said- and I
one day. He had in common with a guy named, got big pull and after that in he deftly was not picked on I thought my practice in its autumn this guy six months ago, Peterborough picking on him now he practiced swinging sticks and his own. position in a hierarchy of this. This, oh Jane has changed, and so understood from from watching him did I just a kind of diligence in in in repetition, and your repetition. You could become better at things. Couple years later, Winton and his brother Branford joined a funk band what was good at making a baseline. Some left handed solely what always put a baseline on his breast, but a baseline or some ills whip. We worked in a night. What we're back all the creators a dead time, no one is my brother and, I would add, two youngest musicians on the whole foxy. I was Thirteen breath was forty. a ban was mainly older, men need maybe the early twenties and in teen late teens eat. They may be
the thirteen bans, the idea, cool enterprise. Flashback stop incorporated Vietnam Pak mail family play as though we would have battles that bears we play dances, weekly gigs we're when receptions. We did A series of talent shows at the police department with Sponsor took to make to community make community relations, and our people come about an audience. Out whatever their bleed words, areas and the most fun we have here and they will come up in being or play, and we had to learn. If Dana twenty Songs- and we learned- and we never look at music, of course, more the times. It was never music. We just learn to music and we played an arm. We we there was great, I didn't want to join the bankers, determine when I was twelve. I want to play jails and muddy he's the one. Is a man play in a ban
Hey man joined a ban, because why is because you have tat, you have to have experiences to know. What something is you can't? Don't don't cut yourself out of experts, when you young. He was always saying: don't don't take them that my prejudice is developing. Jane. I were just kind of like this little to person team, that's the filmmaker. An actor mark do plus. half of another New Orleans Brotherhood. We would sleep, in single bed together for like way too late, like Jane, already like gone through puberty, It was kind of weird, but I think we started to develop this sense of we might try to become artists, and that seems like an impossible thing to do and be financially sustainable, so we better link, arms and souls mark and J do Ploss, both right act, indirect, sometimes together. Sometimes
they had a pretty standard issue: suburban, bringing like moms home with us, well dad's, cranking away. Fifty to fifty five hours a week, kind of building the american dream. So like we can one day take a vacation, that's not in the car like one day, fly to a vacation. That was like that. That was like the goal you know, so what TAT meant practice for me and J, is that We have a lot of stuff. Our parents gives a lot of emotional support and a lot of love, but they didn't buy us a lot of stuff, so we were very board and I think, when cable arrived, which was like a marker of success, my dad was like we're getting cable and we are doing to whom that's when HBO came into our lives and I really let us up as as storytellers as you know, for those of you who do remember in the in the early amid eightys. There was no curious fashion as to when Sir
kinds of movies were shown. They generally leave the already movies for the night time now, but back then we would come home from cool- and you know it was ordinary people and Sophie's choice and and you know what we're doesn't enjoying the hard hitting dramas. The late seventies, it early eighties and and think it really shaped a lot of of who we were I'm curious lake you guys are what you're, maybe like ten in jail fourteen or something. At this point, we are rather outrider out at age up yet so you're watching ordinary people in Sophie's choice which are not exactly Tina, tween, fair Were you aware that you were outliers in that regard? It was. It was still very subconscious. Because we will take our bikes to the streets and still play with the other kids and and play football. They really want to talk about star wars, and we were fine. We watch those movies to keep up, but it was this feeling
What you think a lot of people have maybe later in high school when you start to realize like oh, this is not my tribe. I know how to play this game not to talk about the things to get along, but when I go home, I've got my one or two people. There really are my tribe and we're talking about that stuff. That sort of dynamic happened to me and J much earlier than most people talk about. It happening the duplex brothers, pretty much built mental model of a creative life from scratch for Roseanne Cash. The opposite was true, he is the daughter of country, music, legend, Johnny Cash and his first wife, Vivian as for Roseanne following in his footsteps, my other was afraid of the life it would lead to. So She didn't encouraged me that much my mother was very creative in other ways. She you know she crocheted and she painted- and she was president of her garden club and choose creative in some domestic realms.
ah but riding in music just carry day you know a lingering fog of fear for her. But I remembered my dad was on the road and I remember secretly writing him. When I was twelve saying The thing I wanted to do with my life that I wanted to be a writer that I wanted to do something importance that I wanted people. read my words TAT. I loved language that music was so important to me in had changed my life. I told him all of these things and he wrote me back, and he said I see that you see. As I see it was powerful even to a twelve year old. It gave me encouragement. Her parents got divorced around this time. Her father had become heavy drinker and a drug addict. This made her rethink pudding, music at the centre of her life
Well, that was complicated for me, because my dad was a very famous musician and I grew up thinking that fame was a terrible. and it happened to you like a disease and our is that why would I go into that? Why would I try to attract that kind attention and you never have any privacy and privacy Important to me, because a writer needs privacy and I don't want to go on the road and I don't want to take drugs and get divorced well. Actually, I did want to take drugs in the beginning, so that was so, but you know most do that imprint came from my mom because she was really afraid of fame because of what happened in her life. With my dad, frozen cash. It was a cautionary tale, but in the end, not enough to stop her yeah.
started, writing songs and then I wanted to sing them myself, and then I made demos, and then I showed them to a record label and there's no turning back freedoms. Radio sponsored by Petsmart Petsmart makes it safe and easy for you to care for your pet at Petsmart, the health and safety of employees, pet parents and pets are what's most important, which is why they require face coverings. Social distancing and stop plexiglas shields and enhanced cleaning to follow CDC recommendations for contact list. thing just order online at Petsmart, smart, not com or on the Petsmart app Joy, easy curbside, pick up for same day, delivery powered by door dash free through January thirty. First, two thousand twenty one check out: Petsmart dot com for more details,
resumed went on to put up many records, mostly country and pop some of them. Big hits she's, also written for books, she's about to release a new record called. She remembers everything a child, like hers, a musician father, always travelling drugs and alcohol theme and the attendance burdens her parents, divorce is practically the model for what we think of as a dysfunctional family Having a dysfunctional family is often seen as the model for living a creed of life, its false, that's Teresa, immediately a social psychologist from Harvard who studies, creativity, many If people do have dysfunctional families, but not every creative person as a dysfunctional family may do so.
there's some interesting research on this by David Feldman and Robert Elbert, and a number of other people who have lifted the the biographical backgrounds of people who have distinguished themselves for their crew. activity! Very often they face a lot of adversity in childhood. Maybe I had a serious illness themselves may be a pair was seriously ill or died maybe there was ugly acrimonious divorce are they lost a sibling? Those kinds of events can crush a child of they. Can they can lead to a lot of problems that can lead to substance abuse they can lead to various forms of emotional illness. They can also lead to incredible resilience and all
Super human behavior is seemingly. If people can come through those experiences intact, I don't know if we weaving the field in general have discovered what the keys are. What makes a difference of four four kids. It is true, however, that eminent people in a range of fields are much more likely than the average person to have lost apparent at a young age. In the U S, the rate of parental death before aged. Sixteen is eight percent for high performing scientists. The rate is twenty, six percent, for U S president's thirty, four percent for poets, fifty five percent, but we should note the rate of parental death is also disproportionately high for
prisoners, so it may be that apparent death is a shock to any child system, but that its hard to predict the direction of that shock too much depends on the circumstances like how talented the kid is, or whether they have some key guidance. Sometimes it's one key adult who can somehow rescue them in their lives in the sometimes it seems it just be a trait of the kid something within themselves. There is also the the creativity itself can be a kind of coping mechanism as it was for the graphic designer Michael Bierut. I was a really good, like you know, elementary school and junior high School Goin Highschool school artist. That was very very I could do very realistic drawings that impress people and boy
I take pleasure in impressing, people are otherwise. You know most of my other physical attributes and mannerisms, where the kind of things that would provoke many strange you're, just a beat me up, but but this magic ability to draw. things actually seem to be a kind of like thing that even bullies would be impressed by and am in so early on I kind of started associate creativity. Not would just something that I would do in a lonely room for my own satisfaction by something that somehow would give me a way of operating in the larger world. You know you were designing a poster for the school play. You got to go to rehearsals. Even if you couldn't sing or Dancer act, you got to
make a contribution to the overall effort there went into bringing that play to the stage. While that's another example, diversify and experience being on our group Dean Simon again being a minority as well I guess, you're not oppressed. I mean this is the problem a lot. Noughties are oppressed and no they're not going to realise their potential, even though they are more inclined to think outside the box if they can't get a job, then stock and help me I made a good example that of the Jews in Europe are well known to be over represented in a lot of domains. Creativity, particularly in and sciences, the projectile Nobel prizes in the sciences the Jews are over represented, yet some like twenty percent or something here, but guess what it that's most likely to be in the case where
Jews were emancipated where they were no longer subject to the kind of anti Semitism that use thought in medieval Europe. So I can Switzerland and a number of other countries, so Switzerland, that kind of disproportion is much much air, then you see like in Russia which actually has many more Jews, but how much longer, history, Anti Semitism to use the Nazis invading my studio as motivator too. To finish an assignment that I was kind of dragging my Kalman comment again and I would say well if the Nazis came in, two hours. Would it be done what if they came in one hour? Would it be done? Then? that was a kind of inner expecting the worst and my was brought up. Of course, my family, especially from
father. That sense of you never know. What's gonna happen, horrible things will happen. Coming grew up in Israel, her parents sudden escaped Belarus before the Holocaust, but the rest of her fathers family did not make it out in our family. All roads lead to the Holocaust. kind of an inescapable part of a section of our lives, and it's a reference point for so many things you know when we talk about politics or things being bad and we sit well, it's not the holocaust, so you know get a grip. when I visited common recently in her Greenwich Village Apartment one. was dominated by cardboard boxes recently freed from storage. They contain possessions of her late husband
She and her son Alex, are planning to make documentary about table accounting. Would it be fun to open a t whereabouts, and you see what I mean it could be. You know what I take that back: let's open this box! this box is a spot yes this is used to take this extendable fork to restaurant and heed the extent of a fortune and all of us- and this is one of the states to be repaired, but he would kind of reach over. Do another pay no place for customers next to us, take the shoot out, their paid Europe, no nine, aren't what would have been the point that the point of this was that he would
it's over into somebody else's table and take their food. Didn't in ITALY, and you have everything is much more jolly and festive there and then everybody's laughing a lot if this guy who's reaching over- and these are Cromwell communist potato chips, which I made for the Tiburon City show we created a mock store, and this is this is after he died of course, and I thought shouldn't we have comrades communist potato chips as if,
It was part of our collection, Myra and Timor. Common son Alex is now thirty, three years old, the pretty obvious that a lot of his creative spirit comes from his mother and his father. His main project at the moment is a small museum called Museum, its M m: U S Eu M M! He calls it a contemporary natural history museum in a form of object journalism. This is where Sarah Berman's closet originated before it landed at the map. Museum is very, very small how small its housed, in an old freight elevator about three people can fit comfortably, and yet it is the museum says nicely Gun, museum quality. Museum, qualitative variously yeah. Well, the idea is that it's a museum, Now that a certain rules we felt we had to follow, and if we did that and as other rules, we could play
so. This collection is called modern religion and its basically exploring how these agents, stay relevant in today's society and one way of thing relevant is. Redesigning the elements of the tools of that religion to fit in with modern transport. Today, everybody's will free, so others three community or everybody's go. So there is go communion checks, and so it's looking at these seemingly been now objects, and this one hears the yeah. Billy. It looks like a piece of Nicaragua and those at wine and a little house. Then that's right, yeah you're. The idea,
and museum- is that we want to can of touch on many different notes of what it means to be human. So there's things in here that are totally devastating and those things in here that are completely absurd and We don't want the trick to be on you. We want you to be also a part of it. I use ELM and how his father and his father's death influenced him as a human and as a creative. There always felt A really deep and natural and profound connection between error and he bore and LULU and me LULU is Alex's sister, so there's just a sensibility and a way of kind of feeling and interact.
Thinking and doing, and why we're doing what we're doing that feels very just binding and natural, and I often think that kind of substantially that the work that I do today feels like a way of maintaining a dialogue with cheaper and he feels very present and very active in it all. coming up after the break if a childhood environment and dramatic events like the death of apparent, can have a strong influence on how creative summoned turns out to be how info sure? Are things like incentives for being created
This shows very clearly that intrinsic motivation can be undermined by the expectation of reward. So how does creativity happen? You there's the expression we get ideas. We don't get ideas, we make ideas. What does it take to make? I d is: maybe it's arrogance, but it did didn't occurs to me that I can be an architect or structure legend ill or anything for that matter. It's coming up right after this
Dean Simon. You will recall gears psychology, professor, who has studied the biographies of creative geniuses, get back to just pure psychology. There's something called the big five personality factors. The big five are conscientiousness extra virgin, slash, introversion, agreeableness neurotic autism, and one of those big five factors is the openness to experience, factor Anna has a lot of different facets, too, as its openness to values, openness to action, Yeah you're willing to try out different foods or I'll try out different music and all sorts of different things, and this factor is so powerful as a predictor of human behavior that you can
We tell by going to someone's dorm room in college within their high or low and openness to experience. Okay, well, it turns out this correlates very, very highly with with creative genius Ok, creative genius tend to be very, very high and openness express their wine to explore different values, different approaches. We did find a lot of openness to experience in the creative we ve been speaking with often starting in childhood I was very much interested in the arts as a child. That's Margaret Geller the path breaking Astro, just then my mother, who was walking dictionary and loved literature used to tat me, too, the beautiful Morristown New Jersey Library was in a very old building and one of the things that we read together were plays by all famous american playwrights and from that
I really inherited a love of the language. Am I became fascinated by the theatre by the human condition. So I demanded that I go to acting school. I don't think my father was that fond of this idea, but it was impossible not to do it My father was a chemist step bell, lamps, the famous tech incubator. I think he started give me there when I was around ten and I used to have a mechanical calculator ugly, nobody listening or virtually nobody knows what one of those are, but they were called Monroe Oh calculators than the fascinating thing was all the noise they made an as thing was to say, divide one by three, so it would just go, could took a took turf judgment. Trunks were put out all the three as it could. I learned how to load and x ray camera lie,
and how to measure and x ray diffraction photograph, how to use a vernier and people would a man and chat with me, then so Bell Labs had in its lobby, Foucault Pendulum, which used to be fascinated by very many stories. High, the inventor James Dyson, he of the multi billion dollar vacuum fortune was not predestined for a life of engineer, My father was ahead of the classics Department, my scope till he died brother was a classic scholar, and my mother was an english scholar said. There was no engineering manufacturing architecture, anything in size, So how that happen? So all I knew about creativity or the inequality. you think I did at school was art, I went off to school,
to university to pursue art as a career as a painter, in fact, but when I go This is in London. I discovered that you could do quite a large number of forms of design like furniture designed to design architecture, ceramics, printmaking, sculpture, filmmaking and saw I became interested in design but ended up, doing architecture While I was doing architecture, I discovered that I was very interested in structural engineering I don't know. Why accept that at that time it was the time of Buckminster, fuller and his dry basic structures idea. These structures and fry Otto with cable tension structures, and it was the time that the concrete and for that matter,
export disappearing as the structure for buildings and being replaced by steel, steel structures, one sort or another, and I realise that architecture is going to be about the structure in the engineering and not so much the form, and I found engineering fascinating out anyway, know why I've never come across it. My life before I'm curious, if you were at all in timid, it is by the notion of architectural engineering as much as it appealed to you? Did it strike you as something that lay outside the realm of possibility for a boy who came from a family word. The classics were you know the the foundation in it seem at first to hard, but not at all. You have member, or maybe it's my arrogance bogeymen. You have to remember this. amid six days in London, where anything was possible.
Didn't occurs to me that I can be an architect or structure legend ill or anything for that matter, probably no coincidence that moving to a big city like London, a change the way James Dasent thought about his creative prospects. The same thing, an eye way way years ago, when he lived in New York City for several years. Yes, basically the whole, Universe is so quiet not everyone like New York City, the word does gotten increasingly urban over the past few decades, and that's probably a good thing for the sake of creativity and innovation. Economists like harboured at Glaser, argued that cities play an outsize role in economic growth. I think the city is our greatest invention, because it plays to something that is so fundamental inhumanity place to our ability to learn one another hour. A bill
to learn from one another in cities, ideas colliding on purpose and by accident also this competition in cities and with that competition come strong incentives to create. But this raises its own larger question is creativity, best served by external incentives and motivation were interned. When Witten Marseilles was first thinking about pursuing career in music, his father warned him said: don't do it unless you truly love it don't sit around waiting for publicity, money. People saying your great. He told them because that might never happen things obviously worked out well, for wit, Marseilles, but he remembered fathers message well Andy passes it along to his own students in the jazz program at Juilliard reaches my first thing I have,
students do his right, a mission statement and admission. They ve been is three senses would do on a dual. How do I it, and why am I doing based on a mission statement. I teach them, and I have a a mental teaching them is. I want you to rise above the cycle of punishment and reward not gonna reward you unpunished. This is information. You can do what you want with disinformation So you always actual lies always tell him. If, if you want to learn some, I can't stop you If you dont want to learn it, I cannot teach you what Ellis Marseilles taught Winton an what Winton teaches students is supported by the academic research on creativity and children. A few decades ago, the Stanford psychologist Mark a leper, ran an experiment with nursery school students in which he first watched them doing various activities, one of which was drawing with markers Teresa Laboulaye, whose
but under leper, when she was getting your php tells a story. He then took all of the children if they had shown any real interest in these markers, he put them into experiment and had them go into a separate room They were randomly assigned to one of a couple of conditions: The experimental condition was one for the children of sat down and the experimenter said. Hi. I've got some magic, workers in some paper here for you. I wonder, would you'll be willing to make a drawing for me with these materials in order to get this good player award and the experimenter then held up this little award certificate with a big shiny gold star on it in a place to ride in the child's name and so That was the expected reward condition. The kids in this group, as promised, got the certificate for making a drawing a second group of kids,
were invited to make a drawing with no mention of a reward and got the certificate as a surprise. Afterwards. This was called the unexpected reward condition and a third group of kids, Control Group made drawings, but were neither promised reward nor surprised with one. The results were amazing. They were very strong. Hence, who were in the control condition who were in the unexpected reward condition? or just as interested in playing with those markers and drawing pictures in their free play time as they had been before they went into the experimental room. The kids, who were in the promised rule, condition that contracted for reward condition. Where signal, the currently less interested in playing with those markers. So this very clearly and there were many subsequent experiments showing that intrinsic motivation intrinsic interest in children.
in adults can be undermined by the expectation of reward this finding that x. Traffic motivation. Can a road someone's intrinsic desire to create came as a surprise, It was revolutionary at the time which was the early ninetys seventies because Behavior is still held sway in much of psychology The notion that rewards are purely good of that they motivate behave. that you can shape behaviour with reward- and that is true in fact, is still true. That rewards can be very powerful shapers of behavior, but Mark discovered this very counter intuitive, unexpected unintended, negative consequence of reward, a modular herself in a follow up. Experiment explored how extrinsic motivation affects the quality.
Creative work. She gave kids a bunch of art supplies and asked them each to make a collage without a really strict time limit. Although we generally guide people to finish the collision. Fifteen to twenty minutes, the kids were divided into two groups. The first group was not promise any sort of reward. The second was told that the best collages would win an extra sketch or a magic eight ball. This was called. competitive reward condition. Now all immobility needed were some judges. I brought in people from the art department at Stanford, individually and ask them to rate each collage relative to the others. On creativity. At nine point, zero or something like that, and when I analyzer data, I found that the kids in the competitive reward condition made collages that works never currently less creative than the ones made by the kids.
the other condition based on this research and more. It would seem that the promise of extrinsic rewards the kind of incentives that economists think encourage productivity, that that actually discourages creativity and decreases the quality at least four kids in these settings it's impossible to generalise, but the evidence is strong enough for a mob lay to draw some conclusions. I think that the biggest mistake we make in our schools and I'm trying, but everything from kindergarten now up through college, is to focus kids too much. And how their work is going to be evaluated. Part of that is the extreme focus on testing in the United States right now and for the past several years, part of the disease,
bay curricula. I had been structured even before the current major push on testing. There is too much focus on what is the right answer. Ah water people going to think of what I am about to say and too little focus on What am I learning? What cool stuff do? I know now that I, no last week or a year ago, what pools can. I do now that I couldn't do before, and I think that if we could, if we could switch them focus. We would do a lot to open up kids, creativity, kids, come intrinsically motivated to learn. And we stand that out of them through the educational system I do It is impossible to reorient the way we teach It's not going to be easy, but I think we can do it. I think we have to do it.
I think we all seek care to a slightly rebellious, who talk back the question. The teacher. That's Walter Isaacson, whose written biographies Steve Jobs Leonardo depend. Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein and at a certain point the teacher either spend more time and lets the amount donation wander or punishes them and says you know quit questioning me Einstein ran away from his school in Germany because he was expected to learn by rote, and he was you know, a swatted down every time he tried to question. So he was lucky. He gets to run away and go to Switzerland but they have a new type of school system. That nurtures question. authority? One institution that is real, the questioning of authority to an art form is the MIT media lab.
It has research units called offer of the future and bio mechatronics and lay phone kindergarten. That last one is run by a professor of learning research. M is Mitch. Resnick Resnick argues that randomized controlled experimentation, the gold standard A lot of science just doesn't work very well for a subject like creativity. What problem with as it changes one variable that time and I don't think anyone variables can be the key to creativity. So I think that what we see as the most creative environment have lots of different things that work together in an integrated way. So it's really not so easy to take the classic approach of of
make a tweak and one variable and see the changes I dont think is going to be the way that we're gonna get a deeper understanding of the creative process. Resnick argues that the lack of clear, quantifiable outcomes is a big reason. My school's dont prioritize creativity, schools and focusing on the things that are most easily assessed, rather than focusing on the things that are most viable for kids and viable for thriving in today's society. So what we need to do is to focus more on trying to assess the things we value rather valuing the things that are most easily assessed, Resnick and the like, fun kindergarten group develop software that lets kids make things like enemy. stories or interactive lego models. Very often, traditional learning has taken the form of delivering information delivering instruction and the view has been deferred
just find a better way to deliver. The instruction kids will learn more, but I think research has shown that you're learning happens when kids and apples for that matter actively construct new ideas you there special. We get ideas, we don't get ideas, we make ideas, so I think that yes, there's some role for just no delivering information, but I think the most important creative experiences come when kids are actively engaged in making new ideas through their interactions with the world. The program is called lifelong kindergarten, because Resnick thinks the ideas should extend well beyond childhood. We focus on four guiding principles that I called the four pieces of creative learning projects, passion, peers and play. So we feel that the best way to support his developing as creative thinkers and developing their crate of capacities,
is to engage them and working on projects based on their passions in collaboration with peers? In a playful spirit, we lead most of our lives by working on projects. You'll marketing manager come over. The new ad campaign is work on a project a journal. Training the article is work on a project in our personal life. We plants on his birthday party, that's a project, so you won't get to learn about that process of making projects. We also want them to work on things that their passionate about we ve, seen over and over the people, are willing to work longer and harder and persist in the face of challenges when their work on things they really care about. They also make deeper connection. Two ideas with their working on projects. If they really care about the third p of peers. We ve seen that learning is a social activity that the best when it happens in collaboration.
Sharing with others we learn with and from others. Then the final plea of play- I sometimes called the most misunderstood, pay. Often what people think about play. They just think about fun and laughter, have nothing against fun and laughter, but that's not the essence. What I'm talking about I see play not just as an activity, but a type of attitude and approach for engaging with the world. Would someone has a playful approach? It means there constantly experimenting trying new thing, taking risks, testing the boundaries, and I think the most creative activities come about where were willing to experiment and take risks. I remember when I would come home from school and no one was home and I didn't have a plan. There is this kind of almost mysterious excitement I would feel about just being alone. That's the writer Jennifer Egon, who one Pulitzer Prize for her novel, a visit from the goon squad after
I feel a guy I lost touch with that through maybe even decades of, I live for. I was so worried about whatever one was doing how I measured up how what I should be doing as opposed to what I was doing, whether there are some important thing, everyone else was doing that I should be doing to an end. This was before social media. I think this is. This is like a scourge for young people now from everything I here, but if I can get that out of my head, which I find easier and easier as I get older there is a feeling that their sort of a mystery- that's waiting for me that I can possibly enter something childhood narratives that are really about this. I mean the secret garden all the Narnia books you about, passing through a membrane or aboard a door nor jumping into appeal and being another world. It's really basic fantastical longing this
wish to be at a distance from one's own life and to touch something outside it, which is first of all thrilling in and of itself, and second of all returns you to your real life and charged in some way. That's what fiction writing messroom but I think that we were young. We were indulge. I wonder years Walter Isaacson again in that notion, of playing and being imaginative and having downtime will you can be creative that something sometimes lose in our school systems. Today, one beneficiary, creative downtime, Leonardo Da Vinci. He had the great fortune to be born out of wedlock, meant that he couldn't go to one of the latin schools that middle class families of the renaissance went to, and so he self tidy sits by a stream and puts rocks and different
circles in to see how the water swirls any draws it and then said, how airs was all of these things you get to you? Do when you are young, you full of war, and you're, using your imagination, we see, in Ben Franklin as a young kid just being interested in wide is condensate inform on the outside of a cold cop, the type of thing that man we we thought about, but somehow we quit thinking about. So that's the number one secret of being imaginative in creative is almost being child, like in your sense of Wonder Albert Einstein, said that, he said, I'm not necessarily smarter than anybody else, but I was able to retain a childlike sense of wonder at the marvels of creation in which we find ourselves, but Walter Isaacson. Like me Resnick and Teresa Modulate, isn't calling for
an unconventional instruction. I think that creativity is something you can nurture and even try to teach, but more importantly, creativity without gill. Creativity without training and learning can be squandered. If Louis Armstrong had now but found somebody King Oliver to teach them how to play the coronet. All of his imagination would have been lost. So we should not disparage role of training of learning I mean the same is true of Einstein. Is a little kitties wondering how the compass needle twitches and points north was kind of important that he goes to the Zorich Polytech and starts understanding the concept behind Maxwell's equation, so people who think we should just know to creativity without the skill set and the training that allow creativity to be
turned into action to allow for things like applied creativity there being too romantic? added Leonardo had to work in Barodia workshop and learn how to do a brush drug. There are, of course, plenty of obstacles that may keep a person from gaining both proper instruction and the latitude to play and imagine, nor is every kid lucky enough to grope with two parents as talented, creative, as T Bore in my recount or with parents like Margaret Kellers, taking her to Bell Labs and indulging your passion for acting. These are privileges, not rights. Do not always fully appreciated Judge John Hodgman, the comedian author and former daily show correspondent people who are hand amounting it and really a Conomic Lee. Anxious of course, they're going to have a disadvantage to say affluent white dude from Brookline Massachusetts who was in
childhood the full benefit of all his parents love and never had to share anything in his life. Like idle at a time to sit around thinking and daydreaming. You know to the point where, when I went to college you know my dad said I I don't care what you do in college. I ask you only that you take a single course in bookkeeping and finance, so you know how that world works and others like dad I'll you, but no way like real. Even that really wasn't a began, our fathers, I know I am and get a spoiled brat, you are our tolerance is out. This is what I'm saying. I regret it. Every day of my life, but you know it was it was. It was incredibly selfish and ridiculous thing to do cause. I was spending his money to go to college and yet I was like no, I'm gonna sit on the grass and read a hundred years, the solitude for the fifth time you could
The argument that it paid off for me at least to a certain degree, but I mean Look- art comes out of all communities everywhere, communities of of means and communities of of no means, I mean the greatest art movement of the tree if an twenty first century that is probably the most the most globally meaningful art movement is the development of hip hop, which was an creation in the South Bronx by by young people who were obviously not affluent John, how to sounds like he's, got a grip on the causes and consequences of creativity when you say in that he's got
Don't creative ducks in a row. He said a lot of creative and commercial success, but do not be deceived if you think prior success insulates a creative person from anything you should think again, Let me put it this way, but I am a person for whom being creative is terrifying. The most rewarding thing that I can do but it is a constant struggle with a very clear feeling that I am out of gas every day. and and that I will not be able to support myself for my family because I have now finally run out of ideas for sure this time I mean it even a fear. It is a certainty that I'm done but I've No further ideas and I've been doing this
in this, and only this whatever. This is now for twenty one years. We will explore that fear in many other aspects of creativity in future episodes of the series until then keep your ears open for a bonus episode, my full conversation with Castelo, whose had one of the most extraordinary careers in modern music is just put out a wonder New record called look now attitudes and coming up next week, we radio. What? If I told you that our political system is not Ah, what he thought at once. He always thought of politics as a public institution that the rules we're somehow codified in the rule of law in our constitution, but politics is really competition between largely private actors.
And at the core of it is what we call the dew wobbly. Are the Democrats and Republicans really just like cooking Pepsi with worse TB? Aids is our political system really just an industry primarily interested in making money in creating jobs? That's next time and for economics rate. You know you don't forget to vote, Economics, radio is produced by stature and w productions. This episode was produced by Stephanie Tam met Fresco, withheld from Harry Huggins and Allison Craig Low our staff. So includes Gregg, Ribbon, Alvin, meloth and secular pinky. Our theme song is Mr Fortune, when hitchhikers the rest of our music was composed by the we scared you can subscribe, different, almost ready on Apple Pont Castro. Every get your punk ass. The entire archive is available on the stitches, app
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Transcript generated on 2021-01-20.