When was the last time you ran down the hall? I bet you did it in elementary school until someone told you not to. Or when was the last time you created something you thought was awesome, even if other people didn’t understand it?

Inside “the box” is very safe although I wish this box made everyone feel a little more uncomfortable. There was a time when I was definitely outside “the box,” I remember being very young and wearing a pink furry jacket that had a pocket sewed on. The pocket had floating glitter in it.  I have very fond memories of this furry jacket, although talking about it sounds like an indicator that I should have been a social outcast. Wearing that jacket now, I probably wouldn’t be as comfortable.

A good majority of us go to school and learn acceptable ways of dressing, acting, and creating. There is always a right answer and a right way to think. In other words, we learn how to conform.

A few days ago I was reading Seth Godin’s book, Stop Stealing Dreams, where he actively talks about school being a big creativity and passion sucking devise. School is good at teaching a mass amount of citizens how to be average, how to do the basics, and to fit well in society, but it misses out on, as I would describe, how to be human. If school can teach you how to fit into the box, where do you learn to fit outside the box?

To efficiently run a school, amplify fear (and destroy passion).

School’s industrial, scaled-up, measurable structure means that fear must be used to keep the masses in line. There’s no other way to get hundreds or thousands of kids to comply, to process that many bodies, en masse, without simultaneous coordination.

And the flip side of this fear and conformity must be that passion will be destroyed. There’s no room for someone who wants to go faster, or someone who wants to do something else, or someone who cares about a particular issue. Move on. Write it in your notes; there will be a test later. A multiple-choice test.

An example of how this way of learning affects us look at LEGOs:

Dr. Derek Cabrera noticed something really disturbing. The secret to LEGO’s
success was the switch from all-purpose LEGO sets, with blocks of different sizes
and colors, to predefined kits, models that must be assembled precisely one way,
or they’re wrong.

Why would these sell so many more copies? Because they match what parents
expect and what kids have been trained to do.

There’s a right answer! The mom and the kid can both take pride in the kit,
assembled. It’s done. Instructions were followed and results were attained.

LEGO isn’t the problem, but it is a symptom of something seriously amiss.
We’re entering a revolution of ideas while producing a generation that wants
instructions instead.

Our years of being in the school system teaches us how to conform. For some this establishes a very visible boundary that is nearly impossible to break. We may listen to what’s popular, we may get a safe job with instructions, and we may follow the rules, but ultimately we are human, we think, we dream, and we hope. Innately we are creative beings and we are capable of doing so much more than following directions. Why not take time to do something visionary? Jump outside the box!

What am I doing to help pull my self out of the box? Currently, I am Finding My Muse, which is an inspiring free online class to help toss out self doubt and create something unique to me.

Do you ever find yourself stuck in the box? How do you get out?


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