Why is the Upper House of Parliament still called the House of Lords? If it was called the House of Ladies, would the Lords really stand for that?
The front page of the Observer Review today features a major 4-page article called, “Don’t Mess with the Baroness”. In it we’re informed of several Noble Ladies who are said to “come to the fore in their attempts to change a series of major coalition bills on health, welfare and legal aid”. Really? And what are they doing about education, we’re bound to ask. Nothing at all?
Today’s guest on Desert Island Discs (Radio 4) was Baroness Sheila Hollins, who said, “The joy of parenthood is discovering who your children really are”. We completely agree. What we need Baroness Hollins to do is to propose in the House of Lords & Ladies that all schools now begin to focus their efforts on enabling children (and the adults who are responsible for them) to know who they really are, as opposed to what our existing societal template demands they become: obedient little robokids, each possessing handfuls of exam passes, all at above average grades (!) – sufficient to guarantee them all a place at either Oxford or Cambridge. At least we think that’s the current policy of our major political parties.
Baroness Hollins, who is the parent of a child with severe learning difficulties, spoke on the programme about the importance of valuing children for qualities other than their intellectual or academic abilities – qualities which make them into unique individuals with distinct personalities – with personal, emotional, social and spiritual intelligence and a range of creative capacities.
Our recent blog posts have focused on some fundamental issues for child development and for education. We’ve highlighted the importance of enabling children and young people to discover their Element, and we’ve described the importance of spiritual intelligence and its relationship to imagination and creativity. The development of key skills and the right attitude is essential to becoming the people we need to be, and thereby find our Element.
There was an outstanding four hour Peter Bogdanovic film shown on TV last week which documented the life and work of Tom Petty – from teenage enthusiasm to musical greatness with his own band The Heartbreakers, and also with The Traveling Wilburys.
It was interesting to hear Tom talking about seeing The Beatles on television for the first time . “Everything changed.” This was the moment he knew what he needed to do with the rest of his life – to be in his Element. Like so many others he was transfixed by their originality, their musicality, their wit, their irreverence, their togetherness, their charisma and their charm. These were no manufactured or synthetic pop idols – they were a gang of cool dudes with a determination to do their own thing and to do it with style and imagination. Above all they had a strong bond and a spirit that soared and crackled with uncontainable energy.
Talking about his own gift for songwriting Tom said, “It’s a spiritual thing. It just comes out of nowhere. If you try too hard it just doesn’t happen.”
This corresponds exactly with Sir Ken Robinson’s thoughts on the creative process.
In Chapter 3 of The Element he describes the way in which The Travelling Wilburys came together – George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan.
The Wilburys produced some of their best work when they were just trying things out and having a good time together playing music. Sometimes when we’re playing around with ideas and laughing we’re most open to new thoughts.
While you can see the dynamic nature of creative thinking in the work of single individuals, it becomes much more obvious when you look at the work of great creative groups like The Travelling Wilburys. The success of the group came about not because they all thought in the same way, but because they were all so different. They had different talents, different interests and different sounds. But they found a process of working together where their differences stimulated each other to create something they wouldn’t have come up with individually.
They all collaborated on songs. Each donated vocal harmonies, guitar lines and arrangements. They fed off each other, goaded each other, and, most importantly, had a great time. The result was a recording that was both casual – the songs seem invented on the spot – and unmistakably classic. I think that this is a great example of the creative process at work.