27 November 2017

Creativity

What is creativity and why now is it becoming so important? Many would argue it has always been important and that 'we', collectively, have lost sight of this. Our desire to see our children succeed in professions which, on first glance, appear not to require creativity has meant our focus has narrowed to prerequisites for courses in lieu of a broad and rich education in their final years of schooling. More and more information is becoming available that questions the wisdom of this approach. A study conducted by Adobe, working with recent college graduates in the US, has produced some interesting findings. In their study "Creativity in Education: Why it Matters" it was found that -

  • 91% agree there is more to success in school than focusing on course material.
  • 82% wish they had more exposure to creative thinking as students
  • 78% say creativity is very important to their career, but only 57% thought so when they were in college and
  • 71% of college educated professional thought thinking should be taught as a course like maths and science.

Robert Fritz in his book, The Path of Least Resistance, comments that "The most important developments in civilization have come through the creative process, but ironically, most people have not been taught to be creative."

So, what is creativity?

One definition describes creativity as "a way of living life that embraces originality and makes unique connections between seemingly disparate ideas or unrelated phenomena and to generate solutions". Another is that creativity is "the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality". Or possibly most simply, creativity involves two processes: thinking, then producing.

One can see quite quickly in the second definition a link to the creative arts. Imagining and turning the fruit of one's imagination into reality through art, music, drama, design and technology, STEM or media. This is, of course, the great strength of these programmes at Scotch College and their great intrinsic value. What about teaching creativity in other subjects? Well, this comes back to the first definition. When students are being creative in the classroom they are likely to:

  • question and challenge. Creative pupils are curious, question and challenge, and don't necessarily follow the rules.
  • make connections and see relationships. Creative pupils think laterally and make associations between things that are not usually connected.
  • envision want might be. They imagine, see possibilities, ask 'what if?', picture alternatives, and look at things from different viewpoints.
  • explore ideas and options. Creative pupils play with ideas, try alternatives and fresh approaches, keep open minds and modify their ideas to achieve creative results.
  • reflect critically on ideas, actions and outcomes. They review progress, invite and use feedback, criticize constructively and make perceptive observations.

This can and does occur in every class at different times. Interestingly, in the before mentioned Abode study, Mathematics and Science ranked nearly as high as traditional creative subjects in contributing to creative thinking. At Scotch College, our Inquiry based pedagogy, coupled with the explicit teaching of the Approaches to Learning and Thinking Skills, supports the development of creativity. With this said, we continue to look for opportunities to engage with the creative process across the curriculum and we look forward to sharing future initiatives in this domain with you.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School