"Most of us grow up being taught that talent is an inheritance, like brown hair or blue eyes. Therefore, we presume that the surest sign of talent is early, instant, effortless success, ie, being a prodigy. In fact, a well-established body of research shows that that assumption is false. Early success turns out to be a weak predictor of long-term success.
Many top performers are overlooked early on, then grow quietly into stars. This list includes Charles Darwin (considered slow and ordinary by teachers), Walt Disney (fired from an early job because he 'lacked imagination'), Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, Paul Gauguin, Thomas Edison, Leo Tolstoy, Fred Astaire, Winston Churchill, Lucille Ball, and so on. One theory, put forth by Dr Carol Dweck of Stanford University, is that the praise and attention prodigies receive leads them to instinctively protect their 'magical' status by taking fewer risks, which eventually slows their learning.
The talent hotbeds are not built on identifying talent, but on constructing it. They are not overly impressed by precociousness and do not pretend to know who will succeed. While I was visiting the US Olympic Training Centre at Colorado Springs, I asked a roomful of 50 experienced coaches if they could accurately assess a top 15-year-old's chances of winning a medal in the Games two years from then? Only one coach raised his hand.
If you have early success, do your best to ignore the praise and keep pushing yourself to the edges of your ability, where improvement happens. If you don't have early success, don't quit. Instead, treat your early efforts as experiments, not as verdicts."
(Daniel Coyle, 25 August 2012, The Independent)
"The following images begin with make-do playgrounds (as in the photographs by Helen Levitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson and others), but are followed by some unique and creative playground structures, some of which are mid-century modernist designs. As these images attest, playground equipment can be as simple as a tractor tire or mimic the amorphic abstraction of Jean Arp. So whether you are a landscape architect, a designer or just an inventive kid, all that really matters boils down to one simple question: do children like to play on it?"
(John Foster, 14 April 2013)
"The KaosPilots was founded in 1991 in Århus, Denmark. It grew out of a youth organization called the Front Runners, a truly novel initiative, who worked with cultural and social projects.
The KaosPilots is a self-governing institution comprised of two parts: the school and a consultancy. The purpose of the KaosPilots is 'positive social change through personal growth'.
The consultancy offers the same capabilities that are offered to the students to companies, NGO’s and public organizations, but adapted to suit their specific need. For examples of clients please click here.
The program is a three-year long education where the focus lies upon learning by doing through client assignments, from entrepreneurs, consultants, leaders and thought leaders.
The program consists of the disciplines Creative Enterprising Design, Creative Project Design, Creative Process Design and Creative Leadership Design and the education is designed around and operates according to the values Streetwise, Risk-taking, Balance, Compassion, Real World and Playful.
Based on the written application approximately 70 individuals are invited to attend a unique three-day workshop in the spring every year. Through a variety of assignments the applicant provides information to the staff and students who in the end will select a diverse team of about 35 aspiring KaosPilots to begin the program in the fall.
According to a comprehensive survey conducted in 2005 approximately 30% of the graduated KaosPilots work as an entrepreneur.
A KaosPilot is an enterprising leader who creates value for themselves and others."
"A 1987 video has been unearthed featuring a 25-year-old squash-playing, accountancy graduate John Key. The bright-eyed Mr Key features in an early Close-Up story called Big Dealers. The 'portrait of 80s job du jour: foreign exchange dealer', shows the now Prime Minister in 'the pit' (trading room) as a senior forex dealer. 'Forex dealing is a work hard, play hard world with an image of rich brats who wreck restaurants but always somewhere else,' says the reporter. 'I am not denying that, that has happened and I guess that will happen again in the future but I personally perform in that way,' Mr Key responded."
(Deanna Harris, 02 Sep 2010, MediaWorks TV)
Aldo "Van Eyck believed playgrounds should challenge a child's imagination without jarring the adult's aesthetic sensibilities. His abstract, elementary forms - often manufactured out of metal tubes like modernist furniture - were meant to belong in a well-mannered streetscape. During the same period in Britain, however, we were developing a tradition of playground design that was almost diametrically opposed. The first 'junk' playgrounds emerged amid the rubble of the Blitz, and the results were far less polite. Consisting of makeshift structures cobbled together out of roof beams and detritus, they were often designed with the assistance of the children themselves. That essential character survives today in descendants such as Glamis Adventure Playground in Shadwell, east London, a riot of skew-whiff woodwork and clashing colours, and an odd hybrid of post-war austerity and postmodern assemblage.
The junk playground model was created by the Danish architect Carl Theodor Sorensen, who believed playgrounds should reflect the imagination of the child not the architect. In 1943, having observed the creative way children play in construction sites, he developed the prototype junk playground on the Emdrup housing estate in Copenhagen.
The concept was brought to Britain by Lady Allen of Hurtwood, who tested it out on the site of a bombed church in Camberwell and then built dozens of what she called 'adventure playgrounds' - the term 'junk' tended to turn local mothers into nimbys. Not only did Allen feel that ordinary playgrounds were sterile places ('it is little wonder that [children] prefer the dumps of rough wood and piles of bricks and rubbish of the bombed sites'), but she believed in the healing effects of exposing children to the urban scars of warfare. At the same time, having them take part in the post-war reconstruction effort was deemed a good way of shaping model citizens.
Essentially, all playgrounds are designed to do the same thing: to help children develop their abilities, use up excess energy and keep them off the streets. But the ideology of the adventure playground is interesting for several reasons. First, there's the notion of not restricting children to the repetitive motions of the slide or swing, because the sooner you reach the technical limits of the equipment, the sooner you have to stretch those limits - hence all those swings you see coiled around the crossbar. The adventure playground was designed to liberate the wild thing within and, by exposing children to risk, teach them personal responsibility (all forms of play are underpinned by some form of didactism, so it's worth reminding ourselves that this is also simply more fun). Just as crucially, it was intrinsic to the concept that children be involved in designing the playgrounds, dreaming up weird structures and adapting them later by tacking on extra elements. This participatory dimension, managed by volunteer play leaders, is key to the development of their creativity.
It's curious how much the ethos of the adventure playground chimes with the language of a new era of design today: a 'participatory' process, recycled materials, an adaptive product. It doesn't sound like the 1940s. But equally valuable is the zone of exception that the adventure playground represents in the city, one of improvisation and informality that, pace Van Eyck, does not blend in to a polite streetscape.
Today, there are few true adventure playgrounds left, but occasionally another is built that follows all the essential tenets, such as the Kilburn Grange Park playground in north London, designed last year by Erect Architecture and based on the ideas of local kids. Increasingly, though, 'adventure playgrounds' are produced by specialist manufacturers and merely designed to look rustic. You can't adapt them, or at least anyone who tried would be carted off. These are the products of a health and safety culture that watered down adventure playgrounds in the 1980s and 90s. There was a minor revival a few years ago, when the Labour government invested £230m in new play spaces across England, but the coalition government freed that budget up for other uses, so it was short-lived. And now, with the cuts, several adventure playgrounds, including the giant ones in Battersea and Kilburn, face losing the play workers that make such playgrounds what they are.
It's worth remembering just how cheap and yet how luxurious these spaces are. We should let kids loose on this new breed of sanitised playground, to inject a little of the old spirit in them. I hear the builder behind Kilburn Grange Park salvaged the formwork from Zaha Hadid's Olympic diving towers - that could come in handy."
(Justin McGuirk, Tuesday 3 July 2012 15.40 BST, The Guardian)