However, the unprecedented happened. We have been hit by the biggest global pandemic ever (since the Spanish Flu) and been shuffled into our homes. According to Unesco, the education of nearly 1.6 billion pupils in 190 countries has been affected – that’s 90% school-age children across the globe. As things begin to ease (and I really hope we keep moving in this positive direction), I realised that creativity and education were beginning to merge a little more.
Before schools began to open their doors again, the responsibility to teach children their times tables, arithmetic and sentence structure fell to parents. Teachers in many cases were integrated too, with Zoom calls and worksheets being sent out (as well as immense teaching support), but all in all teachers relied on parents to ensure their children’s learning wasn’t halted whilst the rest of the world was.
Whilst guidance and resources were given, parents still had a choice on how they would homeschool their children. So most of them got creative. Whether that be where they taught their children, when they taught their children, and what they taught their children - and brands have been a big part of this too.
Some parents/carers turned to the outdoors to teach their children - teaching geography and biodiversity in their own back garden. The good weather through early lockdown was the perfect opportunity to take things outside and brands helped make this possible too.
With various activities from nature-related brands, like WWF sharing birdwatching checklists on their social channels, and RSPB reporting more people are seeing more uncommon birds and creatures because they are spending more time paying attention to nature, I can only hope that this attention remains when things return to the new normal. And with WeForum saying there is a high potential that outdoor learning will be necessary for schools to fulfil COVID-19 guidelines across the world, it was probably good practice too!
Now this one is a little tricky. Whilst many were furloughed and had more time on their hands (9.3M had been furloughed by the end of June 2020 in the UK), there were also many who hadn’t. Some parents/carers have complex working schedules, and have had to split their time between homeschooling and work. As a personal anecdote, my sister and brother-in-law (both key workers) have two children under 5 and split their days, so one would work 7am-2pm and the other 2-8:30pm, swapping to look after the children. Families were, and in many cases still are, working flexibly to cater to both family and work life in a way like never before.
As well as the traditional subjects taught in schools, families have also taken it upon themselves to teach their children life skills like cooking, looking after a vegetable garden, mindfulness, cleaning, self management and more. The list could go on. Parents aren’t just focusing on traditional subjects, but the entire betterment of their child.
There are a lot of brands that are seeing this as an opportunity to help and support parents with this, from Netflix putting the entire Our Planet series on YouTube for families to watch and learn about our natural world, to Jamie Oliver vlogging lockdown recipes with his family. Dyson even set kids tasks using household objects called ‘Challenge Cards’ to help build their skills in engineering. Having no children of my own but being close to two sisters who do, I have found that whilst parents will teach their children the academic stuff they ‘need’ to know for schooling - there is a joy in teaching them the life skills too.
Now, the point here is that creativity has come into education, in the strangest, most unprecedented way, but I guess if we focus on the positive - it has happened. Whilst we have no IDEA the long-lasting impact on children this will have (and this is something that at KI we are eager to keep on top of), it’s good to see that something good has come from all this. Who knows, maybe some children have learnt to cook earlier than their parents had planned, or maybe some have successfully planted their first vegetable or even learnt how to paint. These small wins are something we have to clasp onto.
But if nothing else, this pandemic has shown us the resilience of parents, teachers and children alike to deal with the most unprecedented circumstances. I feel pretty proud that my job involves serving this market and making life as good as possible with the variety of brands, clients and people we work with.
Wishing you all a safe return into this new normal. And who knows! Maybe creativity WILL be a bigger part of the education system after all.