19 July, 2022

Why creativity is an essential skill to develop

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.

The benefits of creativity for everyone

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.

Inspiring creativity in your child

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:

  • Encourage perseverance. As much as creativity is a characteristic, it's also a practiced skill. For a child to unlock their true abilities, they need to able to try and try again, be optimistic, and believe in themselves when they’re in process of creating – whether that’s writing, performing, building something, or problem-solving

  • Encourage playfulness. Creativity has to be fun! If you get the fun factor in place and children enjoy being creative, those skills of interpretation and problem-solving will develop.

  • Encourage mistakes. Creativity is also, in part, about finding solutions to problems and experimenting with those solutions to find the best one. Part of this is making initial mistakes. No one can be perfect right out of the gate. Encourage your child to embrace and accept mistakes as part of their learning process; they’ll be all the better for it.

 

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.