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BigDug May 22

Creativity in education – Imagining the future of education

April 29, 2022, 14:29 GMT+1
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  • Creativity in education is the root of every uniquely human achievement...
Creativity in education – Imagining the future of education

All babies are born with incredible potential.

Whether or not they fulfil that potential depends upon a combination of two factors: the circumstances into which they are born, and the education they receive.

There are endless articles to be written on each, but for this we will focus on the latter: education.

Before we begin, there are a few terms that are worth defining: “learning,” “education,” “training,” and “school.”

Learning is the process of acquiring new skills and understanding. Education is an organised system of learning.

Training is a type of education that is focused on learning specific skills. A school is a community of learners.

Often these terms are used interchangeably, but it is important to separate them out: children love to learn, they do it naturally; many have a hard time with education, and some have big problems with school.

Children are natural learners.

From the minute they are born they constantly soak up information and use it to transform from tiny beings entirely dependent on their parents for their every need into independent and curious children.

Curiosity is the most comprehensive learning tool in the first years of life.

Increasingly we are steering children away from their natural learning processes at younger and younger ages.

In the past, school began at primary level. Now more and more children enter formal education settings at nursery level or pre-kindergarten.

There are many benefits, of course – we are social creatures, and young children often learn many essential skills better in social groups.

It also comes with risks, as overly structured extracurricular activities and excess homework are piled on at earlier ages.

Children at this age are like sponges.

What they learn in the primary years becomes internalised, it shapes who they are.

It is therefore imperative that we continuously evaluate the types of environments our younger children are spending so much time in, and to ensure that the systems we have in place have their best interests at heart.

Too often we do things in certain ways because we have always done it that way.

When it comes to formal systems of education, a lot of the practices we take for granted make sense from an admin perspective, rather than a learning one.

The idea of “subjects” suggests that each stands separate from all the other subjects. Outside of schools we all know this isn’t true – literature and history endlessly entwine, the arts and mathematics always bounce off one another, and so on.

A much more useful concept is that of disciplines. Disciplines are fluid; they constantly collaborate and flow from one to another.

They also open the door to interdisciplinary learning – a much more holistic approach that more closely mirrors real life.

Another example is the traditional school schedule. If a business required that its entire workforce stop what it was doing every 40 minutes and focus on something completely new, it would quickly grind to a halt.

Everyone would go mad.

It seems bizarre then that we inflict this routine on our children.

You cannot fit learning into neat, time-allotted slots. Similarly, minimising play and assigning it only to ‘play times’ diminishes one of the most important tools in a child’s repertoire.

Play is not only a fundamental part of learning, but also a critical aspect of development and must be incorporated throughout the primary years.

This is made possible through interdisciplinary exploration and flexibility within the schedule.

Perhaps the most critical practice we need to change in schools, however, is how we approach creativity.

By creating a distinction between ‘creative’ pursuits and ‘academic’ ones we are unnecessarily putting children into boxes.

In these formative years, being forced to identify as either creative or not has the potential to close doors that become increasingly difficult to open later on.

We must recognise the inherent creativity in all of our children, and ourselves.

It begins by putting the humanity back in to education, and by recognising that childhood is not a rehearsal for what comes later, but a sacred and important time of life.

Kate Robinson is a writer, speaker, and co-founder of a number of initiatives dedicated to the legacy of her father, Sir Ken Robinson. Imagine If…: Creating a Future for Us All by Ken Robinson and Kate Robinson is out now, Penguin, Paperback, £9.99.