“Flowers are Red” and Other Lies About Creativity + Innovation

The Idea Guy

The Idea Guy   •   March 3, 2016

Teaching Creativity + Innovation in the College of Business at San Diego State University has provided an ongoing contribution of reference, reading and examples of what my clients and colleagues have discovered during their own exploration of their creative profile.

One of the more recent shares was from a client – a doctor, specifically – who, upon learning I was teaching this class, was very interested if I had ever shared “Flowers are red” by Harry Chapin. I responded, I hadn’t, and he responded by leaving our video conference and returning quickly with a readily available copy of the lyrics, which he excitedly read through the webcam.

The little boy went first day of school, He got some crayons and started to draw

He put colors all over the paper, For colors was what he saw

And the teacher said.. What you doin’ young man

I’m paintin’ flowers he said

She said… It’s not the time for art young man, And anyways

Flowers are red, Green leaves are green

There’s no need to see flowers any other way, Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…

There are so many colors in the rainbow

So many colors in the morning sun, So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You’re sassy

And you’ll paint flowers the way they are

So repeat after me….. And she said…

Flowers are red, Green leaves are green There’s no need to see flowers any other way Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said…

There are so many colors in the rainbow

So many colors in the morning sun So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner

She said.. It’s for your own good..

And you won’t come out ’til you get it right

And are responding like you should

Well finally he got lonely

Frightened thoughts filled his head

And he went up to the teacher

And this is what he said..

Flowers are red, green leaves are green There’s no need to see flowers any other way Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does

And they moved to another town

And the little boy went to another school

And this is what he found

The teacher there was smilin’

She said…Painting should be fun

And there are so many colors in a flower

So let’s use every one

But that little boy painted flowers

In neat rows of green and red

And when the teacher asked him why

This is what he said..

Flowers are red, green leaves are green There’s no need to see flowers any other way Than the way they always have been seen.

Did you know…

  • 98% of 3-5 year-olds score near the top of the scale for divergent thinking.

  • 2% of adults over the age of 25 have comparable scores.

  • Creativity can be rebuilt, like a muscle, through learning, exercises and application, over time.

It’s never too late to become creative – to become better at generating new ideas – and it’s always imperative to improve our ability to innovate – the implement these new ideas, products, services and concepts.

Get started by creating a creative profile – a simple reflection of where you are today, which will get you thinking about where you want to be.

Interested in the back story?

Watch the video of Harry Chapin explaining and a performance of the song.