One of the questions I often get asked — by students and parents alike — is “what exactly is creativity and why does it matter?”
I believe creativity is one of the most important — if not the most important thing — that we can teach children, because it equips them with so many vital skills that will set them up for a lifetime of success. Part of the challenge is that people can often see creativity as short-hand for art making. As I’ll explain, it’s so much more.
I see creativity as an innate human trait that flows from several skills and abilities, all with obvious real-world benefits: curiosity, envisioning, connection making, and problem-solving.
As teachers, we inspire children to embrace and nurture their innate creativity. Why? Because we know it’ll help them become more confident, imaginative, optimistic, open-minded, and perseverant. They’ll also grow up to be more successful with an ability to see the ‘art’ in their daily lives and possibilities in the challenges they encounter.
Creativity is key, as the saying goes. It’s as fundamental a skill as numeracy, for example, because it’s needed for almost any task. I’m not talking about the ability to choreograph a dance or paint a still life, instead I’m talking about the different perspectives and characteristics that creativity allows.
Colleges, universities, and employers are looking for different 21st century skills in their candidates. There are now higher-than-ever levels of university-educated graduates, as well as constantly evolving industries, so it’s necessary to have skills beyond traditional academics. And then there’s the shift towards automation and the use of Artificial Intelligence too. All of this means that resilient, collaborative, reflective and creative people are in demand, and this is only going to become a greater need in the future.
So how can we help to nurture creativity in children?
Our focus on creativity is one of the things about working at a Nord Anglia school that I love. We aim to encourage creativity across all subjects through personally relevant learning activities that lead to exploration, problem solving and meaningful social action. It’s at the heart of how we approach education.
As an example, if your child is involved in one of our collaborations with UNICEF, MIT, or Juilliard, they will practice creativity in a variety of contexts and apply this style of problem solving to different tasks. From finding creative ways to tackle the Sustainable Development Goals, to working with classmates to tackle science challenges, creative thinking is vital. It’s also why we believe in the power of STEAM learning — because creativity and art making have a powerful place within the processes of science, technology, engineering and maths.
But what about at home? Here are some simple ways to nurture your child’s creative skills:
If I can leave with one thought, it’s that creativity is a powerful 21st century skill that every parent should recognise as being vital for their child’s success.
In an ever-changing and ever-developing world, the adaptability and vision provided by creativity is truly invaluable.
Chris Petruzzi is the NAE Global Performing Arts Lead and Assistant Head of School at North Broward Preparatory School.