Do you censor your ideas?

Tom Barrett
2 min readMar 5, 2023

Next time you’re afraid to share ideas, remember someone once said in a meeting let’s make a film with a tornado full of sharks.

I laughed about this advice this week, automatically getting a promotion into my future talks and presentations on creativity and innovation!

Tom x Midjourney

Self-censorship is the silent killer of ideas. Even before they get thrown into the creative deathmatch environment, we all too often experience. It is a surprise anything changes!

Education organisations like schools rely on the creative capacity of their workforce. We laud innovation like any other industry, but the intentional design of the conditions for innovation is often missing.

Internal idea filtering starts in the small ways we perceive a threat and our experiences of socialising new ideas for lessons, programmes or projects. Yes, it comes back to the feedback dynamic we often explore in this newsletter.

You might say self-censorship indirectly results from poorly designed feedback experiences — a second-order effect of poor communication.

Whenever I am talking to people about when new ideas spring up, they say the shower, driving, or washing the dishes. The process of generating ideas unconsciously with intuition is universal.

How about you? When does inspiration strike?

And it is essential to note here that self-censorship, judgement and evaluation is a conscious choice, even if it feels habitual.

self-censoring doesn’t exist in the unconscious or in ideas, which are free to combine in improbable and ever-mixing associations. ~ Paolo Belardi, quoting Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

We can say “Yes, and” or even “this is a safe space to share ideas”, all we want, but if the internal conditions for expression are hampered, we are all worse off.

We must reckon with the health of our creative mindset, but we cannot abdicate our collective responsibility for a supportive environment for new ideas in education.

Are you looking for a diagnostic tool to understand your creative culture?

  • Watch closely as people share new ideas. (Extra points for unexpected, contrarian and half-baked ideas)
  • The language (verbal and non-verbal), the responses and how ideas are communicated will likely offer all the signals you need.
  • And if you struggle to find moments like this, again, you have all you need to ask some more questions.



Tom Barrett

Re-discover the curiosity you had when you were 6. Learning, Leadership, Innovation. Join Medium to support my writing << Affiliate link