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Curious about Creativity

20 april 2017

‘We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it’.
This statement is a stark reflection from Sir Ken Robinson in his 2006 Ted Talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’, which to date remains the most watched Ted Talk ever, with well over 20 million downloads. 

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Its popularity could be ascribed to Sir Ken’s witty delivery – he is right: I had never thought of Shakespeare being a child and having a father who told him off about his homework.  Or it could be that in 17 minutes Sir Ken changes our thinking about how we promote (or diminish) creativity in our schools.

When children come to school at the age of 2 or 3 they are naturally curious and exploratory. They don’t wait to be told what they are learning today, they just get ‘stuck in’, because young children are fuelled by curiosity, ‘What does this do?’, ‘What would happen if I…?’ or ‘How does that work?’ .

Young children make sense of the world around them by experimenting and connecting their experiences in a continual cycle.

Steve Jobs, entrepreneur, inventor, designer and co-founder of Apple, sees creativity in the same way: ‘It is just about connecting things’. Jobs believes that creative people are able to connect experiences they've had in a way that synthesises new ideas and products.

So is ‘making connections’ the magic bullet that ensures creativity continues to grow? Perhaps, but there are factors that could stifle this creative growth; making connections needs to involve discovery and if the road to making discoveries is not clear, then a lot of effort will still yield very little genuine creativity. Mapping out key learning objectives from different subjects and asking students to join the dots between them is not the same as empowering and equipping them to make meaningful inter-disciplinary connections.

Making connections therefore needs to be integral in all thinking, every day. Creativity will not flourish if it is confined to a Wednesday afternoon period 5, to be packaged away until the same time next week.

Our new MIT-inspired STEAM centres will enable us to work with students on extended multi-disciplinary projects. Through a carefully guided series of learning experiences we will, over time, nurture the students’ opportunities and skills to spot and exploit connections between discrete subjects. In this manner, far from being the school of Sir Ken Robinson’s fears that kills creativity, we will be the leading school to nurture and empower creativity.

Victoria Solway, Director of Teaching and Learning