Creativity

Just a quick reflection on one line I recently read in a school’s OFSTED report, which said:

Artwork on display and the pupils’ commitment to physical activity indicate that creative and sporting skills are also well developed.

I believe that creativity and being creative, constitutes more than simply producing artwork to display around the school. Whilst I have not read the whole report, and I do not know the school or have any experience of the workings of the school (and I am definitely not attempting to reflect on the school concerned in a negative way), I simply find the idea that well developed creative skills, evidenced through artwork on the walls, reflects a shallow conception of creativity.

Of course, the school may well have a number of different ways of encouraging creativity and I am sure that OFSTED also are aware of the vast discourse in the educational community about creativity and how to develop creative skills. Certainly, I have only just touched the surface in this regard. However, I am using this statement as a starting point for a brief consolidation of my current understanding/thinking.

Guy Claxton (2006) discusses the idea that a creative mentality can be cultivated in schools and dissects the dispositions and habits that creative people hold. Perhaps, for me the most interesting disposition was that of resilience. He highlights that being creative is not always fun. And that it is the ability to deal with frustration and confusion and to not give up when these feelings arise that is key to a creative mind. He goes on to suggest that creative people must be willing to ‘stand out from the crowd’ and think for themselves; these aspects are too often forgotten in schools (very generalised, I know!)

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Perhaps this is no accident. There is certainly a school of thought (Ha!) that believes education is used by governments to control its people; as ‘a mechanized process of inducting young people into the culture of modernity’ (Miller, 2005). Modernity being a view of society as a machine that is managed with the purpose of turning its resources into commodities and profits. Certainly, where educational tradition has been challenged, governments have reacted. The late educator A. S. Neill’s Summer Hill School, where freedom is placed at the forefront of effective learning has, until very recently, always conflicted government ideals – only just receiving a positive OFSTED report having almost been shut down a few years ago.

Lastly (I have gone way deeper than I had planned to so should probably stop soon), in his most recent TED talk, Ken Robinson discusses the idea that we are obsessed with getting people to college (or university) and that we are enthralled to the idea that life and education are linear lines of progression. He promotes a more organic view of education based on principles of agriculture that elevate human flourishing.

How can we implement this practically in our classrooms? Who will lead this revolution? And will it ever be possible to really radically change the concept of education in this country?

Image: BBH Advertising Campaign for Levi’s.

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