Sir Ken Robinson (an author, speaker, and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education, and arts bodies) delivered a popular speech which has been given the title "Schools Kill Creativity" in which he humorously and concisely describes the current crisis facing education, in not just America, but the world and the force that will drive success in the future - creativity.
On speaking about creativity, many of his examples and anecdotes came from children, who (as most anyone who has been around a child can attest to) are often saying, doing, and creating things that surprise and amuse adults. They are creative. Why are they so creative? As Robinson points out - because they are not afraid to make mistakes (intellectually). They have an idea, they express it, if they are wrong, it is explained to them and they move on.
He is quick to point out that being wrong is not the same as being creative. Only that you cannot come up with original and unique ideas if you are consumed with a fear of being wrong. However, in school, being wrong or making a mistake is stigmatized and students are taught to try to make as few mistakes as possible.
Pablo Picasso said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up." The suggestion, and it has only gotten worse, is that schools teach the creativity out of children until, by the time we are all adults - we have a hard time "thinking outside the box".
This is not to suggest that everyone is meant to live the life of an artist. Rather, that we see our mistakes as humans being compounded as the rate of communication, travel, and technology increases and the complex problems we face are exacerbated by the same minds coming up with the same ineffective solutions.
It will require the creativity of most humans to make true, sustainable, positive progress in our global society.
So what is creativity? It is the willingness and ability to suggest, seek, and present ideas that may be totally wrong, but are totally unique and bring the individual and those around them outside of their comfort zone - fostering more creativity and energy among peers.
You can watch Sir Ken Robinson's speech here: