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Creativity Must Be at the Center of Education

“Where nursed by pure love, grow the fairest flowers,” wrote France Prešeren, Slovenia’s national poet, a romantic figure whose work inspired generations of European artists. It wasn’t just his musical language, but what it stood for: fighting against oppression, expressing the universal longing for freedom. In the great tradition of Shelley and Keats, Prešeren was a humanitarian as much a poet. And his education began at home, with his mother.

Big Think sat down with Danilo Türk, the former president of Slovenia, and discussed his big idea: creativity should be at the center of education. In Slovenia, Türk says that, thanks to parents, a cultural education begins in early childhood, with a focus on music. “The overall effect of this is that we have pretty good generation of young musicians in Slovenia,” he says, “and that has to do with something which is really very difficult to measure.”

Even the greatest advancements in technology can’t replace the need for fostering creativity. Children will never fit neatly into any type of data-driven boxes. As modernity continues to make life more complicated, and our challenges seemingly compacted, then creativity will always be required to invent new solutions and new ways of seeing the world.

Türk stresses that the European model of education is based on a centuries-old “top down model.” Having lived in the United States, he credits schools in New York with promoting optimism, critical thinking, and creativity which all encourage freedom of expression.

“That educational tradition I find quite beneficial, something that we in Europe have to learn from,” he says, “and perhaps [Europe needs to] develop creativity by using the techniques of education which put creative elements more at the center.”

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