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Dr. Danilo Türk served as President of the Republic of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012 and was the first the Slovenian Permanent Representative to the United Nations. At the UN[…]

Former President of Slovenia Danilo Türk discusses the importance of cultivating creativity in the classroom.

Danilo Türk: I am not sure whether we really have a strong need for hard data in soft aspects of human improvement.  We need hard data in terms of measuring skills of course, especially in math, reading, mastering of computers, digital technologies more generally, and so on.  So these are the kind of hard measurable aspects of human capacity.  But then there are ways in which one can stimulate creativity and not very easily defined in data.  Let me give you an example.  In Slovenia we have a very good network of musical schools.  And there are many people, young people who are learning to play various musical instruments.  And I think the overall effect of this doesn’t depend on anything measurable, but really on the energy of the mothers of children to make sure their children go to musical schools at the right age and that they learn.

Now I have been President for five years and I have visited many small places in Slovenia, talked to musical school directors and mothers and so on.  And I have seen how important this motherly energy is for the learning of music at a young age.  Of course many children are not talented in this direction and of course they may even have some traumatic experiences as a result.  But on the other hand the overall effect of this is that we have pretty good generation of young musicians in Slovenia and that has to do with something which is really very difficult to measure.

I would like to propose that all governments stimulate everything that has to do with creativity, and it starts often with something which is really very simple.  For example, when I visited schools as President I often said to the teachers and to students, I said, “Well, you know, you are usually told to be diligent. But I’m telling you be creative.  Diligence per se is not enough.  Diligence may be good but not sufficient.  So please teachers, teach your students to be creative. Invent something in your own matter to work with your group of students which would stimulate their creativity.”

Now in Slovenia, which is part of the central European educational tradition, this is not unimportant, because that tradition has been for centuries based on a kind of a top down model of education which still exists.  And therefore there is a need to deliberately inject the idea of creativity into the educational process.  I would very much like that to expand, but I have seen since I lived in the United States for 13 years as well and my daughter went to school in New York that the American tradition is different.  There, I think, much more effort and much more emphasis is put on individual talent of students, stimulation of talent, can do approach, optimism, and all these things.  And of course that educational tradition I find quite beneficial, something that we in Europe have to learn from and perhaps develop creativity by using the techniques of education which put creative elements more at the center.

Directed/Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Dillon Fitton