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The Importance of Creativity in Education – Developing Creative Intelligence

‘I wish I could draw’               ‘I wish I was creative’              ‘I wish I could do that’

You can.                                  You are.                                    You will.

These are frequent statements I hear from pupils and my response remains the same. However, why is it important to value and nurture ‘creativity’?

When asked to cut the arts funding in favour of the war effort, Winston Churchill replied ‘’Then what are we fighting for?’’. From cave paintings to the Turner Prize, the world has seen art and imagery as a way to express and convey messages. It documents our history, our progress, our development and can inform, persuade and challenge a nation. Traditionally, people were awestruck by the technique and skill. They valued the photographically painted portrait, and some still do. However, there is a more contemporary movement, which values the creativity, the concept and the statement behind the work. Creativity is the entire process where ideas are generated, developed and transformed into something…anything. Anyone who holds these attributes has the capacity to be creative.

Sir Ken Robinson, the champion of the importance of creativity in education, talks about the need for all children to have a creative outlet. He mentions that ‘’creative intelligence is dynamic, it’s diverse and it’s distinct’’. I believe that creativity is as important as literacy and we should treat it with the same significance. More and more children are educated out of taking risks and they become numb to trying and failing before they succeed. We need to teach them to be prepared to be wrong and to be original. The world is becoming more and more dynamic and the ability to be adaptable is now a valued commodity. Creative intelligence generates the perfect skill set which we need to equip young people with so that they can navigate an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.

It is this innovation and imagination that many employers and companies seek to attract in their candidates. They want the creative thinkers, the challengers and the risk takers on their team. They want their employees to have the ability to look, to see and to react to something which is in front of them. This reflects a growing acceptance that creativity is not simply about coming up with big ideas, but coming up with practical solutions to everyday problems and then applying them to real life situations. Everything around us – our homes, cities, medical services, transport and communication systems – are conceived and developed by practical people who know how to implement creative ideas. Take a moment and look around you. Everything you see has been thought about and designed down to the last ergonomic detail.

We cannot predict where the world is going or where we will be as a society in 10 years’ time.
Career change statistics suggest that the average person will be making a career change approximately 5-7 times during their working life. We therefore need to teach children to be adaptable and how to develop a ‘could-be’ attitude. Many authors talk about the importance of being able to develop a creative attitude or a creative state of mind. They will therefore be able to expect the unexpected, have fun playing with ideas, practice not knowing, generally being curious and being proactive.

The Arts Council has noticed this need and states; ‘‘Across the world, countries are reforming their systems of education to better prepare young people for the increasingly complex and challenging demands of the 21st Century. In many countries, creativity is being given priority as never before.’’ But does this apply to us? Across the independent sector we are fortunate enough to have thriving creative departments but this is not always the case at all schools in the UK. The introduction of the EBacc has caused a huge threat to the creative arts with priority being given to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). As artists do, we challenge and question whilst spreading the message of the importance of creativity. You only have to look at the Artist Bob and Roberta Smith to understand why he has stood in local elections and how he documents his protests. I personally, believe that we should be turning STEM into STEAM and introducing the Arts into the core-curriculum.

The Arts return £4 to the economy for every £1 of public investment. As a country we cannot ignore this. The Government website states that the creative industries contribute £71.4bn to the economy or £8m an hour. It generates 2.6 million jobs of which 1.8 million are directly in creative occupations. We cannot be blind to the strength that lies in the power of the imagination. The creative brain is a muscle, and when used frequently, it responds positively to the challenges that lie in front of it and enables us to think flexibly. It is an ability that we all have and can cultivate with practice. It does not sit within the confines of a studio or gallery. ‘‘Creativity is not about music and art etc.; it is an attitude to life, one that everyone needs,’’ wrote the University of Winchester’s Professor Guy Claxton. ‘‘It is a composite of habits of mind which include curiosity, scepticism, imagination, determination, craftsmanship, collaboration and self-evaluation.’’

 

Holly Hunter-Wright

Art Teacher and Head of 3rd Form.