The end of talent

A while ago, I watched Ken Robinson give a TED talk about creativity being killed off in schools. And then in this month’s New York magazine, Adam Sternbergh wonders if the talent is running out in reality t.v. The thought that talent is a resource than can be over-tapped, like oil, or timber is something that makes me wonder… can we really run out of talent?

The first problem is that talent is hard to recognize and quantify. The second thing is that talent is delicate. It can die quickly if it isn’t nurtured. People see talent in kids, but as they get older, the opportunities for them to explore their talent disappears with “more important” issues like test-taking and the ability to sit still. Parents who nurture the talent of their children, do so entirely out of pocket and by dedicating a lot of their own time to it. And the fact is that it’s for the benefit of everyone. How many schools are dedicated to devoloping a Picasso, an Allegra Kent, or even the likes of Damien and Tourie Escobar? But the talents of these people have made the world a more interesting place to live.

I think talent is already a dying element. If the likes of Glen Beck can con people into believing his insane, bigoted rantings and corporations, governments and organized religions can consistently turn blind to corruption for the benefit of saving themselves while nobody speaks up, I think the talent is already sucked dry. Talent is about finding different and better ways to do things. Talent is about being unafraid to point out the bullshit and having a ready antidote. It’s not about the status quo, or fearmongering, or throwing up roadblocks to ideas when you don’t have a better one yourself. I’m sad to say, there is little creative thinking happening in the world today.

So, what do we do about it?

I for one, am keeping my kids in violin and swimming lessons and letting them build with Legos until they fall asleep in the bricks. And I’m going to keep writing.