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Putting the human imagination to work
“The all-inclusive vision which the Government has for T&T is prosperity for all, within a framework of sustainable development,” said Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister of Planning and Sustainable Development. “Sustainable development calls for creativity and innovation. Human imagination is an inexhaustible source of creativity,” he added. Tewarie gave opening remarks at the second panel discussion in a series of activities planned in the lead-up to the VIII Americas Competitiveness Forum (VIII ACF), which will be held in T&T in 2014. The theme of the VIII ACF is The Human Imagination at Work: Driving Competitiveness, Powering Innovation. The panel discussion was an opportunity for the public to engage in conversation with four creative leaders who were invited to speak about the topic of the human imagination at work. The panellists were Steve Ouditt, a UWI lecturer, artist and designer, Nicholas Lok Jack, an executive director of Associated Brands Ltd and the president of the T&T Manufacturers’ Association, artist LeRoy Clarke, and Camille Selvon Abrahams, a teacher and founder of both Full Circle Animation Studio and the Animae Caribe Animation Festival.
Ouditt expressed the view that what might fuel the imagination is the question of why. “Asking why gives us new knowledge and the ability to face future challenges. ‘Why’ is the platform that we need to evolve,” he proposed. It is a platform upon which some designers around the world are already operating. According to Ouditt, designers with “real imagination” are asking the why question and envisioning ways to solve social issues. He drew the audience’s attention to The Dementia Dog project, an initiative in the UK that uses dogs to help people with mental illness maintain their routine and remind them to take their medication. “We do not need another chair or table designed,” he said further. Lok Jack shared his experiences as a child who imagined he was Spider-Man and MacGyver. “As a child your imagination goes wild and you think that maturing means constraining that imagination,” he said. Yet imagination has a key role to play in business. He described what he called corporate imagination as that which comprises individual experiences, academic training, a consideration of society’s needs and the competition or drive to do better.
Selvon Abrahams focused on imagination in the classroom. She raised the issue of the need for teachers to encourage students to imagine themselves rather than emulating what they see on television or in foreign video games. “Where are we on the screen and what are we giving to the world?” she asked. “We don’t just want to take. We should be creating,” she added. She gave details of a Math for Animation project designed at UTT. The project asks students to create a city using mathematics—a task that, she said, has raised the pass rate in the subject at the school. To put the T&T imagination to work, Selvon Abrahams recommended teaching students to be authentic and fearless even when facing failure, for a lack of success can be used as a stepping-stone to improvement. Clarke exposed those in attendance to the idea of what he saw as the mentality and attitudes that function as a rock standing in our path and the need for imagination to move it. “We do not exercise much imagination in our space. The rock is so high we cannot get over it. It is so wide we cannot get around it. It is so heavy we cannot get under it. “We have to understand that we are the difficulty. We are the rock. We have to get past ourselves,” he shared. “The question of imagination needs imagination to deal with it,” Clarke added.
For information about upcoming activities and next year’s forum visit competitivenessforum2014.gov.tt or planning.gov.tt
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