Roger von Oech

Creative Think

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David Armano


Great post and great advice. Though Joey's case is extreme, I think we've all had situations where our creative potential could or would not be tapped.

I would expand on your creative side projects bullet. I've been in several situations where I needed to stimulate the creative juices. Here's what worked for me in the past.

-started doing illustrations on the side
-proactively inveted projects at work (some made it to the client)
-launched, designed and re-designed website
-launched blog
-started taking photos
-started writing
-seeked out other people hungry to push themselves creatively
-collaborated on small freelance projects
-looked out of my immediate discipline to fields such as product design, brand consulting and urban planning

Above all, would encourage Joey to DO SOMETHING.

Good luck Joey.

Mark McGuinness

Hi Joey, - the first thing that impresses me about you is that you're still taking initiative and doing things (like e-mailing Roger) IN SPITE OF the constricting environment at school.

That suggests to me that, although you're understandably discouraged, you DO have the determination of a Warrior! So firstly I would say give yourself credit for that - when you start seeing yourself as a Warrior, you'll find it easier to keep acting like one.

Roger and David are both right - the way to keep yourself creative is to make sure that every day you do ONE THING purely for your own creative satisfaction. It doesn't have to be a big thing - and maybe you should keep it safely away from your teachers!

Even if you spend a few minutes a day working on something at home, it will give you a taste of the creative freedom you want. And you'll carry that feeling around with you for the rest of the day - which is something no-one can take away from you.



I am from india. Same kind of situation is here. People are judged from their academic scores. Good academic score does not mean that he is good. Some people are really very intelligent and creative but may not have interest in academics. They do invent great ideas. But companies offer job to only peoples who have good academic career. This should not be case. Companies should check person properly before accepting or rejecting any one.
I have come across a situation that a good academic person, dont know anything practically

hope this situation impreves in india soon

Doug Withau

A few weeks ago there was the classic debate going around the blogs. I don't have time to find the links today, sorry.
It was the old argument that the good O'l USA is falling behind and will not have enough engineers because we do poorly against other nations on standardized tests.
A post like this makes me believe that our education system is broken enough that some creative thinking can happen. (Sort of like the government).

Matt Jaunich

check out Fraser's post about "Knowing more by knowing less" --

Michael Wagner

I understand Joey's plight: I was raised German Lutheran and spent my elementary years memorizing the small catechism and repeating the answers. (that was meant as a little German Lutheran humor...we're not very good at it).

My suggestion: find a creative life mantra that will remind you to stay creative.

Charlie and Maria Girsch have "what if, what else, why not" as theirs.

Walt Disney's was "dare, dream, do".

I've adopted the Girsch's as mine for now.

Paul McEnany

I definitely don't think Joey's problem is limited to his school system alone. I can't count the number of times I (and just about everyone else), stayed up all night cramming for some test just for the grade, and then forgetting most of the material within the next couple weeks.

I guess some things are easier to teach when the teacher just hands off a list of things to know. But knowing things doesn't necessarily equate to knowledge, and learning by experience is becoming a lost art in a lot of schools.

It's a shame, really.


Hi Roger! I can understand Joey's frustration and I would say that it is very common here in Taiwan. There isn't that much creativty taught in schools here; especially when the students start senior high school -- any creativity that had been nurtured in previous years gets crushed by the pressure from parents/peers to perform well in upcoming tests. What is uncommon, though, is the young man's courage in expressing his frustrations! Most people just accept the status quo (there is a very clear, if unarticulated, pecking order in Taiwanese/Chinese societies). Know your place!

That said, it is dangerous for firms in the West to fall into the trap of believing that Asian firms will never be able to become more innovative. Firms here realize that being innovative is crucial and are actively seeking ways to reach that goal.

I'd advise Joey to at least try out some of his ideas -- irrespective of his teachers'/other people's views: only then will he know if they will work. Embrace failure and learn from it!
Gordon in Taipei, Taiwan.

Joey from Taiwan

Thanks guys im appreciated that received so much comments, about blogging, photoing and painting, im actually had a blog(in chinese sorry) long time ago, which is truly good for my creation, as well photoing- most of the taiwanese students are having photophone, so i can often grab the image funny or full of edification home, maybe some of them will inspire me in near future. Painting, ha i have drawing tiny people doing things in different posture since im in elementary school(of course teacher don't like what im doing), and that's also why i still keep textbook i used when im young.
Und also i heard some advise like choosing creative programme in school, sadly we cant choose what to study here in taiwan (shock, arn't you?) so here i read, heeh, i learn things by outclass reading.By the way, i WILL keep my offbeat sense of humor, hahaha.
On the other hand im glad to found there ARE opposite voice here, that make me so respect this place, only i can do is expecting to meet a boss that knows grade means not everything, frankly taiwaness education IS improving, slowly but improving, as the film i see ordinary taiwaness students just remember WITHOUT knowing what they are remembering, awful, im lucky that not born at that time, though im not THAT lucky 'cause i born in THIS time, i hope young "whackers" in asia could lead their children in better path then mine, i hope.

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