Creativity at school: is it possible?
Theoretically - yes. In practice and within the system in which we operate, with the priorities this system imposes - sadly no. That is not unless we change our attitudes and seriously re-evaluate our priorities.
Why should creativity be truly valued and become an important element of school education?
- creativity is one of our most valuable, intrinsically humans traits
- we need more than ever to cope with today’s unprecedented speed of change (technology, social and global phenomena)
- the world of work needs people who can learn new approaches and new technologies, who will think creatively ‘out of the box’ and who are willing to embrace the speed of change
- learning to make a difference in the world is more dependent on flexibility, creativity in thinking and emotional intelligence than on information alone
Yet, look at how the essence of our schooling today is so often at odds with the essence of creativity:
|creativity needs||schooling requires|
|many possible answers||one correct answer|
|questioning ‘facts’||acquiring facts|
|safe to take risks and get it wrong||unsafe to take risks|
|mistakes provide crucial feedback||mistakes are punished|
|rules can be broken||rules must be followed|
|suspended judgement||constant evaluation|
|new ideas count||accepted count|
|ambiguity is welcome||clarity is expected|
|playfulness and freedom||seriousness and organisation|
|lateral thinking||logical thinking|
|slow mind at work||fast brain at work|
|relaxed ambience||stressful environment|
|individuality valued||conformity valued|
|skills via exploration||skills via discipline|
Clearly the traditional education and creativity don’t function in harmony.
We say that people learn from their mistakes but we punish them with low grades.
We say that we value individuality but in fact we reward children for being conformists and complying with rules and regulations.
We say that we welcome creative ideas whereas in fact we mostly expect pupils to regurgitate information.
In few classrooms can we observe
- lateral thinking being introduced along with logical thinking
- welcoming mistakes as an important part of the learning process
- appreciating of the value of the ‘slow’ mind (which is closely associated with creativity and wisdom)
- playing with ideas and encouraging breaking the accepted, established patterns of thought.
If we are serious about schools becoming a fertile ground for creativity, we can start with ourselves. We can
- become confident in their own ability to be creative
- create a risk-safe environment
- accept non-conformist and rebellious attitude and be able to deal with it effectively
- take delight in ‘crazy’ ideas and originality
- understand the role and value of the ‘slow’ mind
We need to work to modify the system and
- change the way of assessing learning and progress
- find the right balance between absorbing information and creative ideas
- incorporate lateral thinking into the programme and the way lessons are taught
- make searching for ‘another right answer’ an integral part of every lesson.
Can this be done?
For the sake our children and their success in life, let us ensure it can!© Eva Hoffman