Rachel Foster
Creativity and education: a match made in heaven?
Education, creativity, insight
5 mins

Having left school just over 3 years ago, I can safely say that creativity was not a big part of my education. This was no fault of my teachers which, especially when I reached my A-LEVEL studies, were excellent mentors and incredibly passionate about their respective subjects. Even so, creativity just barely came into things - we copied text off PowerPoint slides, we answered exam questions and that was about it. Not to say these techniques didn’t work, but sometimes I wonder if creativity was more encouraged, if this would have affected my way of learning. This issue is not about teachers but instead the narrow confinements of the national curriculum they are expected to conform to, where seemingly only a few subjects are deemed ‘important’.

A TED Talk by Sir Ken Robinson from 2006 focuses on the importance of fostering creativity within children and how it helps shape individuals into the best person they can be. He projects that children are put on a “production line and churned out at the other end in batches” within current schooling. Sadly, the introduction of standardised testing and the English Baccalaureate in 2010 has led to the uptake of art and music to decline dramatically - and so the cycle continues. I agree Sir Ken Robinson, more needs to be done to work on children’s individual needs to give them the opportunity to broaden their horizons without feeling it is being detrimental to their future (with which passion often comes opportunity). Our  teachers desire for this creativity is mutual; even with subjects that weren’t necessarily deemed ‘creative’, research states 80% of teachers would prefer creativity to be included as part of learning standards.

From my own experience, there was definitely an element of ALEVELs being considered better than BTECs. This is obviously not true, but the different grading system and the fact ALEVELs tended to be more ‘academic’ made us feel almost superior. Whilst I can’t speak for now, when I was in education calling something ‘BTEC’ was actually bordering on a derogatory term, even though BTECs held some of the most creative and exciting subjects.  While I don’t regret the subjects I took, as I will reiterate my teachers were incredible, I can’t help thinking that I would have leaned towards more ‘creative’ subjects, if not for the stigma against them. 

Today, I feel utterly inspired by the exciting creative teaching happening in schools. For example, schools are recommended to have a creative hour, which provides students with an hour a day to focus on creative learning. Other creative techniques can be as simple as storyboarding or as exciting as TED-Ed clubs created as a space for students to share their ideas. These ideas are not only engaging but also boost self esteem, encourage problem-solving and aid emotional wellbeing among many other benefits. There is no right or wrong to creativity and it’s giving kids the confidence boost they need. 

The beauty of creativity is that it can be enthused in any subject: from Science experiments to making up rap songs to memorise Shakespeare. Children can be given the opportunity to feel important and not be judged by how they learn or what they think - the bigger the idea, the better. Let’s be honest, nothing groundbreaking has been done by copying Powerpoint slides. 

We were always told that the creative subjects just weren’t as likely to get us jobs in the long run, we were better off sticking to the core ones. In mine and a few friends experience, it actually put us off the subjects we were passionate about. In spite of this, the creative industries are the fastest growing economy in the UK. Let’s foster creativity in schools -  it may just set children up better than copying equations - just a thought.

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