29 June 2016

The Need for Creativity in Education (and in life)

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“All kids have tremendous talents. And we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.” Ken Robinson states in Ted Talk Do Schools Kill Creativity?

I’ll start by admitting that I personally went to a pretty wacky primary school, where creativity flourished. Instead of formal writing instruction, we were given 30 minutes a day to journal. Instead of following the suggested prompts as “What’s your favourite season?” or “Tell us about your best day ever”, I spent each day adding onto my literature saga titled When Pigs Attacked about a bunch of pigs that went on adventures. Weird? Yes. But totally encouraged by my teachers? You bet.

Later on in my education, I realised that my education was a little different than my peers. Although the creativity that it took to write fictional stories about pigs, it turns out, transfers over pretty well into other areas of life.

Comfort without Rubrics: Students (American ones, at least) love rubrics, which provide step by step instructions on what you’re supposed to do for an assignment, so you know exactly what teachers are looking for. It’s very formulaic: if you hit all of the points on the rubric, you will get a good grade. There are definitely pros to this approach—students learn how to follow instructions and the expectations are clear for both them and teachers. However, rubrics are rarely given out in the real world. Your business division might be given targets, but no step-by-step instructions for how to reach those targets. Creative thinkers know how to fill in those gaps to reach their goals.

Keeping Up With a Changing World: As technology increases, the world changes an increasingly faster pace. “Nobody has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time,” Robinson says “And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it.” There are plenty of jobs today which couldn’t have been imagined only ten, fifteen years ago. Who would have guessed that a digital game with a bird and some pipes would have generated its creator over $50,000 a day? We can’t predict the future, but we can prepare students for it. Creative thinkers are able to adapt to whatever their world looks like.

Innovative Solutions: More complex, intricate problems come along with this faster changing world. As these problems become more complicated, our solutions need to be that much more creative.

 “I think we’re leaving an interesting legacy in the world, and the kids are going to have to solve huge problems, be it with climate or with the world food crisis” Principal Georgia Constanti from Nicholson Street Public School in Sydney said in an interview with ABC “kids are going to have to solve those problems… that’s where creativity comes in. They need to be able to draw on all their knowledge then mix it, mash it up, and create a solution.”

It’s imperative that we foster creativity throughout our education systems to ensure that we set ourselves up for success in the future. And this focus needs to flow throughout—from the youngest learners to the oldest. Universities, along with VET’s and TAFE’s need to ensure that creative problem solving persists as we prepare out students to enter the workforce. Because creativity is an important skill for all of us—not just kids. 

Sydney is from the United States and is spending her American summer /Australian winter working as a Marketing Intern at Akolade. In a few months she’ll start her third year at the University of Michigan and is working towards a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Women’s Studies. After she graduates, she’s hoping to work in consulting or marketing, but still isn't quite sure what she wants to be when she grows up.  

This is Sydney’s first time in Australia, and she’s been surprised that people haven’t laughed at her name more. So far, she’s adjusting to the slight cultural differences (Australian coffee is better, some words are spelled a tad differently, and “carryout” food is called “takeaway” food). She’s excited to be working with the marketing team at Akolade and continuing her business education outside of the classroom.

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