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Why Embedding Creativity in Education is More Important than Ever

As we navigate through unprecedented global uncertainty, the question of how we prepare future generations for stable and fulfilling careers has become ever more pertinent. What skills do the children of today need to thrive in the world of tomorrow? What will this world even look like? And what foundations do we need to disrupt in order to create a world that is better than the one we have today?

With traditional education systems feeling the brunt of Covid-19 lockdowns, now seems like an invaluable opportunity to challenge the educational status quo and facilitate the type of thinking that will drive us into a brighter future. The increasingly complex challenges faced by young people today can only be tackled through a strong understanding of the collaborative and interdisciplinary skills that underpin our modern workforce. Such a daunting task requires creative solutions, and injecting creativity into education might be exactly what we need.

The Durham Commission on Creativity and Education was convened to investigate how our education system can move beyond traditional learning methods and help to foster creativity. Their report posits that ‘Creativity is now one of the most sought-after clusters of skills for all employers. At a personal level, young people need the enterprise and confidence that creativity encourages, if they are to thrive in a world in which they will change jobs more frequently than in previous generations.’

For young people, the ability to think creatively and critically is vital to both their relevancy in the job market and their resilience in navigating the continuously changing landscape of our world. It is widely recognized that creativity is a driver of growth, and creativity and economic output are closely intertwined. Moreover, it is accepted that the days of a single lifelong career are in the past, and most young people will work for longer and change careers several times over their working lives. The current knowledge-based education system needs to adapt accordingly, especially as we become increasingly reliant on technology to drive progress. According to the Commission, creativity instils people with a sense of agency and requires them to have a deep understanding of the subject matter. As careers become increasingly nuanced and the challenges we face grow in their complexities, the ability to think deeply and laterally will be crucial to their success. The educational experiences of young people need to mirror the changing dynamics of the working world, and this can be manifested through creative learning.

With mental health becoming a growing concern among younger generations, the impact of creativity on mental wellbeing is also an important factor to consider. There is ample evidence in support of creativity as a means of fostering happiness and resilience. Teaching children to look at a problem imaginatively can help them to find their voice, inspiration and a sense of community through their shared experiences of creativity. In addition, creative thinking can equip young people with the tools needed to explore challenging themes more openly by showing them that there are many ways to approach a single problem. According to the UK Department of Education (2014), ‘In order to help their pupils succeed, schools have a role to play in supporting them to be resilient and mentally healthy’. This will require our education system to go beyond a basic knowledge exchange in order to mould individuals with both vocational skills and mental fortitude.

The belief that creativity is hereditary, and its applications are confined to the realms of the arts are factors that also need to be challenged. In fact, creative thought is valued across industries and vocations, and is the greatest driver of innovation. NASA, an organization rooted in lateral thought, demonstrated the importance of this type of thinking when they developed a highly specialized test to measure the creative potential and divergent thinking of their scientists. This test, developed by Dr George Land and Beth Jarman, was so effective that they decided to run a longitudinal study using similar methods in order to better understand the true source of creativity. A sample of 1,600 children were used in the study, and they were scored on various divergent thinking metrics at ages 4-5 and at 5 year intervals throughout their adolescence. The results provided astounding insights into the development of creative thought. In the first round of testing, 98% of the 4-5 year olds scored at genius levels for creativity. However, 5 years later, the same children who were now within the traditional schooling system showed converse results, with 30% scoring in the genius category. After an additional 5 years this number had dropped even further to only 12%. These results have since been replicated over a million times, with separate studies being conducted on a variety of age groups. This demonstrates that creativity is indeed innate to all of us, and the ability to think divergently is eroded by externalities over time.

As the late Sir Ken Robinson, well-regarded British education and creativity expert, stated: “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.” Kidovation at Accenture Interactive strongly believes that education does not need to come at the cost of creativity, and by providing experience-based learning opportunities, the two can work in harmony. The human brain is a truly marvellous muscle, and it is vital that the creative components of it are stimulated during these crucial years of our neurodevelopment. That’s why the Kidovation team have put together a new series of learning opportunities to keep our Kidovators learning and creating over lockdown and beyond. We’ve expanded our curriculum of experience-based workshops to cover design thinking, pitching and presenting, marketing and coding. For the Kidovators looking to learn something new over the next few months, we’ve also got an upcoming series on Coding out in February. Through discussions and exercises on some of the most interesting topics in this area, the series will demonstrate how important creativity is in coding and its applications. Keep your eyes peeled for more to come and get those creative cogs turning with the Kidovation team.

- Lexi Hayden