Why should we focus on creativity?

Have you noticed things change so quickly nowadays? Two years ago, a teacher from the University of Duke, Cathy Davidson, estimated that 65% of children entering school in 2011 would end up in job that doesn’t exist yet. Latest trends in education and sociology highlight the need to prepare our children for constant change, rather than specific content. We should try to develop our abilities to adapt to an uncertain future. It looks like retaining information won’t be as important as knowing how to deal with it..

After a few years working as an Arts teacher in ESO and Batxillerat (that’s secondary school and college in the UK) , it shocked me how many few students were able to decide what to do when an open project was proposed.

Just in case you wonder, an open project would sound something like: create a collection of ten images using only a photocopier, nothing else; or try to describe a space using five images. It amazed me how difficult was for them to develop the project if clear step by step instructions weren’t provided. I then discovered we had trained them to follow instructions, not to decide by themselves. How far is that from creativity!

At that point my two children were in their first school stages, one in nursery and the other in pre-school. Both of them had been occasionally bringing stuff home. I remember, when some of these cheesy handicrafts got to my hands, thinking for myself: “You haven’t done this, it’s impossible!”. What was the point? That was fiction, and this fiction carried on for years, investing the Arts school hours in making totally guided crafts with a unique result, creating as many similar copies as children were in the classroom. Instead of promoting creativity we were killing it; slowly, very slowly. Sir Ken Robinson was very clear about this idea in his 2006 talk: how school kills creativity. If you haven’t seen this, you should. Not only the content is demolishing but his speech performance is hilarious.

Creativity is usually defined as the ability to find possible solutions to a given problem. It is rather possbile that uncertain conditions generate unexepected situations where decisions will have to be taken. Beiing able to react to them will sure be a positive aspect to be taken in consideration.

Most of the activities/projects/problems developed in this Arts project are open, willing to develop students creativity.

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