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Thursday, 7 March 2013

The Creativity Movement - Why is it so important RIGHT NOW!

I addressed in my last post about why schools are comfortably stuck in their non-progressive ways.

If you didn't read my last post... I feel that many school's haven't moved out of the shadow of the Industrial model of education.

If the classroom to the right looks at all familiar in your current classroom or school - it's time for an update.

The limiting and supressive system from the Industrial revolution served a specific purpose for a specific time that expired in the 50's.

Now, without stretching your thinking too much - a fair few changes have occurred in society since then. A lot more is known about how children learn and how their learning should be supported. However there are teachers, administrators and parents who just wont let go of the past. Wont let go of control. Wont let go of what they feel comfortable doing because "I've always done it this way."

But I want to get schools, teachers, parents and most importantly students to break the institionalised shackles of school and become creative beings.

In this post I am addressing these two questions:

When and why did the creativity movement start?
Why is creativity especially important right now?                   

It amazes me that creative thinking skills hasn't always been a the forefront of educational change and I think these are two open questions that allow me (and you) to delve into the topic.

The Creativity Movement - Where did it start?

What is now thought of as the ‘creativity movement’, began in America with the launching in 1957 by Russian engineers of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The Russians had beaten the Americans into space. But how had Soviet Russia been first to succeed in the space race? A plausible explanation was seized upon - the problem was lack of creativity. American scientists needed to be more creative in their thinking to find solutions.

Questions were being asked about what was being valued in education. There was a national call for more creativity in schools. A wave of creativity research followed and interest in developing creativity in education became worldwide (Fisher, 2002). Impulse for creativity then, as now, was a reaction against prevailing values that were seen as excessively bureaucratic and manipulative. Translated into the classroom this meant wanting to shake education free from excessive testing and rote learning and encourage more student-centred learning (Fisher, 2002).

Development in technology has had another influence over this movement. People were finding that many functions that humans had done in the past were being taken over by machines, notably computers. The power and speed of the computer as a calculating machine also became apparent, and human abilities in these areas began to pale into significance (Cropley, 1992, 87). But in 2012 technology has become so efficient, multi-facted, mobile, user friendly and most importantly commonly integrated into everyday life that it only enhances creativity in an array of contexts. Students are bringing their knowledge and creativity of technology use to school and creating an amazing array of examples of self-inspired creativity.

Why is creativity especially important right now?

Sir Ken Robinson states that:
“The challenges we currently face are without precedent. More people live on this planet now than at any other time in history. The world's population has doubled in the past 30 years. We're facing an increasing strain on the world's natural resources. Technology is advancing at a headlong rate of speed. It's transforming how people work, think, and connect. It's transforming our cultural values. If you look at the resulting strains on our political and financial institutions, on health care, on education, there really isn't a time in history where you could look back and say, "Well, of course, this is the same thing all over again." It isn't. This is really new, and we're going to need every ounce of ingenuity, imagination, and creativity to confront these problems. Also, we're living in times of massive unpredictability. The kids who are starting school this September will be retiring—if they ever do—around 2070. Nobody has a clue what the world's going to look like in five years, or even next year actually, and yet it's the job of education to help kids make sense of the world they're going to live in”. (In Azzam, 2009)

With change happening at such rapid speed and with the future unknown there has never been a time where a greater emphasis on schools to educate students to be equipped by their schooling with skills at adapting to change. Society’s need is for creative, inventive, flexible, and adaptable adults. Children need the ability to look at life with wonder and question why things are the way they are. Because there are many things that need to be changed and currently, I feel, that generally today's children are being restricted by their education to be conformist thinkers.

The now. The Future. Get with the program.

Society is moving at a fast pace. You can feel it. Technology is driving this progress and we are part of a quickly transforming global society. We are citizens of the world, increasingly connected by the World Wide Web. It is an era of Information Technology, in which no longer requires facts to be drilled into us, but we need to be innovative and adaptive to change by thinking in creative and dynamic ways. If we look at the ‘purpose’ of education with an employment lens developing student’s creative skills has never been more important. Students are up against new challenges that they weren’t in the past. You can no longer be guaranteed a job when you leave school or graduate from university. The job market is extremely competitive and the fluctuating global economy puts more strain on this. Therefore for teachers have to value and develop creativity. Students should be shaped to be innovative to invent new things, be flexible to adapt to an array of situations, have new ideas and work collaboratively. Creativity helps us find ways of adapting and developing to suit the rapidly changing circumstances. Above all, today’s children need to be equipped by their schooling with skills at adapting to change. Society’s need is for inventive, flexible, and adaptable adults. In view of this need, the capacity of school to develop creative thinking assumes great importance.

A snapshot of The Job Market

With the historical implications of didactic teaching and it being used in education for a Industrial 'purpose', I think about the end result of our students. Of course, teachers do more than just develop students for a job but if you think of modern life and how the work environment has changed then the importance of creativity in education becomes clearer. As a thought, there are many jobs that current students will have to be prepared for in the future that aren't even established yet!

In a 2009 survey from CareerBuilder and Robert Half International, employers said that aside from having the basic job qualifications, multi-tasking
(36 %), initiative (31 %) and creative thinking (21 %) are the most important characteristics in a job applicant (Zupek, 2011). Jobs in the new economy--the ones that won't get outsourced or automated--"put an enormous premium on creative and innovative skills, seeing patterns where other people see only chaos," says Marc Tucker, an author of the skills-commission report and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (Wallis & Steptoe, 2006).

Where I’m at with my journey

I am developing the awareness that developing a student’s creativity goes a lot deeper than just talent.
It shapes the person. It shapes an identity. It shapes passion. It shapes a lifelong learner who questions the world around them and thinks in dynamic and innovative ways.

Look at life through a creative lens. 


Some resources I've sighted and read recently on this topic:

Azzam, A. (2009). ASCD. Why Creativity Now? A conversation with Sir Ken Robinson. Last Accessed: 28th November, 2012.¢-A-Conversation-with-Sir-Ken-Robinson.aspx

Cropley, A. (1992). More ways than one: Fostering creativity. Ablex Publications: New Jersey.

Costa, A.L. (1989). Foreword in Resnick, L. & Klopher. L. (Eds). Toward the thinking curriculum: Current cognitive research. (pp vi – viii). Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: Virginia

Dewey, J. (1944). Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education Free Press: NY

Fisher, R. (2002). Creative Minds: Building Communities of Learning for the Creative Age. Teaching Qualities Initiative Conference, Hong Kong Baptist University, Last Accessed: 28th November, 2012

Wallis, C. & Steptoe, S. (2006). Time. How to bring our schools out of the 20th Century. Last Accessed: 28th November 2012.,9171,1568480,00.html.

Zupek, R. (2011). International. Top 10 reasons employers want to hire you. Last Accessed: 28th November 2012.