We must learn to be creative. Innovation comes from creativity which is sparked by imagination. In his book Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative, Sir Ken Robinson builds a powerful argument for the need in our society to shift how we see the role of creativity in education and in the workplace.
I started to type some of the key points I read in the book and ended up with a large list (which is might just keep at the end of this post, sorry!). As a relatively new teacher (ending my 6th year) I am very aware of the tension happening in education right now. The Government and other are realizing that collaborative work and innovation are essential for our learners. Yet many educators and parents are holding back, desperate to keep the old model and tradition (reading, writing, ‘rithmetic). As Robinson says, they are “Far from looking to the future, too often they are facing stubbornly towards the past” (Pg 47). Yet as a classroom teacher I notice that my students are not able to creatively problem solve, even simple everyday problems, on their own. They are having trouble transferring their skills to new projects. They want yes or no answers and can’t handle ambiguity. Sounds to me like they need more work with creativity!!
I am about to meet one of my professional goals of learning how to encourage creativity in my classroom and I am excited about the opportunity I have to work with Learning Through the Arts. It is a collaboration between the school board, artists, and schools where artists help teachers to infuse creativity and the arts into any area of curriculum possible! I know that arts are seen as an add-on that isn’t truly respected, yet I know that the arts are essential to our experiences as humans. Sadly, “The arts are seen as disposable extras in education; something optional to do with self-expression, relaxation and leisure” (63). Yet why can’t self-expression, relaxation, and leisure be part of Math, Science, ELA, Social?? Why are we separating students from making personal connections?
I also appreciate Robinson’s discussion about the importance and value that our society has placed on traditional post-secondary education. He states that “The narrow focus on academic ability and particular disciplines in schools inevitably marginalizes students whose real interests and abilities lie in other domains” (250). Not ever human is meant to study at university. Not every student is meant to study at college. Yet as a society we look down on those who had the creativity and know-how to make it and be successful without being educated.
I am encouraged by some of the advances that I see within my own school system. They have a Career and Technology centre where students can explore and get involved in all kinds of different areas of learning. Also, in the CTF courses in Jr High, the curriculum is all about adapting to and creating in the midst of challenges. I believe that if teachers can get on-board with this kind of planning and teaching then it will influence the core subjects as well. Robinson writes that “If we fail to promote a full sense of people’s abilities through education and training, some, perhaps most, will never discover what their real capacities are” (123). Yes the basic are important, yet how do we teach to humans instead of vessels that need filling?
Yes I believe that education is important. Yet I also believe that we are doing a disservice to some of our students by not catching up with culture: we need to teach kids how to use imagination and innovation to create solutions to complex problems using skills they learn. There needs to be engagement, buy-in, and a connection to what we teach. Indeed, “Creativity is not about a lack of constraints; often it is about working within them and overcoming them” (266). So let’s change together for the better: teachers, parents, Governments, and businesses!
“David was dancing before the Lord with all his might” (2 Samuel 6: 14).
My Reading Notes:
“everyone has huge creative capacities as a natural result of being a human being. The challenge is to develop them. A culture of creativity has to involved everybody not just a select few” (4).
“Current approaches to education and training are hobbled by assumptions about intelligence and creativity that have squandered the talents and stifled the creative confidence of untold numbers of people” (8).
“education is meant to guide us from childhood to maturity. It should be high among the ways in which we realize our creative abilities. More often it is why we lose sight of them” (16).
“our best resource is to cultivate our singular abilities of imagination, creativity, and innovation. Our greatest peril would be to face the future without investing fully in those abilities” (47).
Education systems: “Far from looking to the future, too often they are facing stubbornly towards the past” (47).
“If creativity is to become central to our futures, it first has to move to the heart of education” (49).
“The arts are seen as disposable extras in education; something optional to do with self-expression, relaxation and leisure” (63).
“The requirements of university entrance have had a direct influence on the nature of the school curriculum and on forms of assessment and public examination..Those who go to university rather than straight into work or vocational training programs are always seen as the real successes of the system” (65-66).
“I know artists, business leaders, dancers, sportspeople, and many others, whose accomplishments, intelligence and humanity are as substantial as anyone I have met with a post-doctoral degree” (66).
“The creative capacities of generations of people have been sacrificed needlessly to an academic illusion” (79).
Enlightenment thinking (technology and medicine advancements): “There has been a heavy price too, not least in the schism of the arts and sciences and the domination of the rationalist attitude, especially in the forms of education to which it has given rise” (98).
“The modern world view is still dominated by the ideology that came to replace medievalism: the ideology of rationalism, objectivity, and propositional knowledge. These ideas frame our attitudes and theories every bit as much as myth and superstition underpinned the painstaking calculations of the medieval astronomers” (107).
“The creative process is not a single ability that lives in one or other region of the body. It thrives on the dynamism between different ways of thinking and being” (122).
“If we fail to promote a full sense of people’s abilities through education and training, some, perhaps most, will never discover what their real capacities are” (123).
For Robinson, creativity is “The process of having original ideas that have value” (151).
“Facilitating creative development is a sophisticated process that must find a balance between learning skills and stimulating the imagination to explore new ideas” (161).
“The intellect cannot work at its best without emotional intelligence” (186).
“It is through feelings as well as through reason that we find our real creative power. It is through both that we connect with each other and create the complex, shifting worlds of human culture” (196).
“Creativity is about making connections and more often than not…it is driven by collaboration as much as, if not more than, by solo efforts” (212).
“The narrow focus on academic ability and particular disciplines in schools inevitably marginalizes students whose real interests and abilities lie in other domains. Cultivating the full range of students’ talents calls for a broader curriculum and a flexible range of teaching styles…One of the roles of education is to broaden and stretch the interests of students, into areas for which they many not have a natural affinity: it is equally important that they feel their own natural abilities are properly engaged and valued” (250).
“Schools can no longer be academic ghettoes” (264).
“Creativity is not about a lack of constraints; often it is about working within them and overcoming them” (266).
“There are many good teachers whose creative instincts are curbed by standardized education and whose effectiveness is diminished as a result. A creative culture in schools depends on re-energizing the creative abilities of teachers” (267).
“Teaching for creativity involves asking open-ended questions where there may be multiple solutions; working in groups on collaborative connections between different ways of seeing; and exploring the ambiguities and tensions that may lie between them” (269).
“Assessment should support students’ learning and achievements. In practice, it tends to dominate the priorities and general ethos of education” (275).
“We must learn to be creative” (286).