Our guest blogger – High School teacher Shani Hartley – presents the case for creativity in education.
The quiet rebellion
There is a quiet rebellion occurring against a marks based, results driven education. Results are supposed to reflect the learning achieved but instead, in order to maximise those marks, the process has become formulaic. Any aspect of life that is not easily measured slips in importance and is thereby considered insignificant or even worthless. It makes learning boring, bland and banal.
Many teachers, supported by research, are attempting to shift the emphasis back onto the actual learning and the thinking skills involved. Mere knowledge is what has truly slipped in importance in modern day life since we now live in a world where information is freely available online and calculations are conducted by computers. Yet our results driven system (think Naplan and the HSC), pushes teachers to focus on how to answer test questions and students end up demanding to be simply told what they need to know.
See Ken Robinson's Ted talk – Do Schools Kill Creativity?
How creativity benefits children
Instead, more open-ended questions and projects are important for children to develop their thinking processes. Giving children choices regarding the topics to be explored, the process of that exploration and how to communicate the learning obtained, can help them overcome the fear of the unknown and learn about themselves and what they are truly capable of doing. Our children live in a visual age where YouTube is their first point to call upon for something they want to learn, so it is just one medium they should be using more to express their learning and even to teach others.
Children need to try and discover new concepts for themselves without being contained by a preconceived notion of what the end result should be. To learn how to solve problems, children need to be given time and freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. A little bit of freedom in the learning process encourages original thought and action. As a teacher, it is really exciting to see children develop new ideas and concepts instead of regurgitating what they’ve been fed from a textbook or a whiteboard that just about anyone can find for themselves.
If our goal is to teach and nurture future scientists, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs we need to understand and nurture the creative potential because creativity has provided the foundation for art, science, philosophy, and technology. - Dr. Rosa Aurora Chávez-Eakle
A current trend in the business sphere is that people and institutions need to be ‘agile’, in other words, be able to adapt and react quickly in a world that is constantly and rapidly changing. Businesses recognise that to be agile they need people to be creative, think critically, solve problems and excel at personal interactions. Educational institutions have been slow to recognise the need for change and when they do see the need, they find it difficult to change under the rule of a system pushing for higher and higher numbers in the results driven game.
Creativity is vital for all other thinking skills to occur. The best problem solvers think creatively. Entrepreneurs need to think creatively. Adapting to the infinite range of personalities and attitudes of people requires creativity. Creativity will give us world peace and the cure for cancer. Thinking creatively is required to be agile in this ever-changing world.
Too often creativity is marginalised to being a natural talent that can’t be shifted, when it is actually more of a mindset than a fixed allocation of skill. Creativity needs to be developed, fostered and encouraged, not only in the arts, but all aspects of life.
Creativity focuses on processes much more than the product. Although we may say a particular piece of art or a solution to a problem is creative, it is actually the process behind the art and the solution that is creative.
Children’s education needs a stronger focus on creativity to develop clever thinking and change the world to be a better place.
Dr. Rosa Aurora Chávez-Eakle, Founder and Director of Washington International Center for Creativity was quoted from education.jhu.edu
Shani Hartley: Guest blogger
Thirteen years of teaching have been equally rewarding and frustrating. Every day I see children who can be and often already are amazing participants in the world but are constrained and dampened by a system that stymies creativity and innovation. I encourage all parents to find ways for their children to express themselves and truly discover their capabilities.
Working as a Graphic Designer and business owner, I have had opportunity to work in large and small organisations. I have learnt the benefit of trusting in my creativity and bringing that creativity to all my clients. As a parent, I am passionate about kids creativity, in whichever form it takes. My workshops are about kids growing into their creativity in a playful environment.