Sunday 18 October, 16.00 until 17.15, Pit Theatre, Barbican Battle for the Classroom
The 2015 report by the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value argues that creativity and the arts are being ‘squeezed out’ of schools. Popular educational thinker Ken Robinson, whose TED Talk, ‘How schools kill creativity’, has over 32million views, claims that equal weighting should be given to the arts as to science and maths. Perhaps ironically, Robinson promotes creativity as being in the interests of the ‘knowledge economy’: schools must cultivate a ‘Creative Class’ for the future. Similarly, Yong Zhao, author of the best-selling World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, urges educators to treat creativity not as a ‘nice-to-have’ but as ‘an economic necessity’. Proponents of knowledge-led education counter that creativity can only arise if one first has a mastery of subject-knowledge. To think outside the box, you need to know what’s inside first. Furthermore, advocates of liberal education argue the arts and culture should be taught for their own sake, not how they might serve the economy.
Meanwhile, some argue the debate about declining creativity is an unnecessary panic: the kids are all right, and doing it for themselves. Techy geeks are creating games that display incredible artistic prowess and imagination. And are kids who code any less creative than those who colour? There’s evidence to suggest that, worldwide, youngsters are particularly creative with their use of digital media: anyone with a mobile phone can be a photographer or create mini films; computers allow young people freely to remix videos, create their own fan comics, compose music. The fast-growing Maker Movement, with an emphasis on creating rather than consuming, is seen as one solution to a decline in traditional arts education.
So what is true creativity and how should schools cultivate it? Are schools doomed to kill creativity or can they teach it? Is creativity a unique skill or simply the result of hard work and knowing your stuff? Do we know how to encourage creativity or even what it is? Is it one of those abstract concepts that can mean everything and nothing all at once, even as it is widely debated?
senior editor, ArtReview
co-founder, STEAM Co, set up to power communities to inspire children with creativity across the STEAM skills of Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Maths
director, Creative Learning, Barbican/Guildhall School of Music & Drama
educational consultant and teacher; author, Trivium 21c: preparing young people for the future with lessons from the past; writer, Times Educational Supplement
creative director, Crafts Council
teacher, Arnhem Wharf Primary School
William Kitchen vs education’s child-centred, anti-knowledge orthodoxy.Joanna Williams, spiked, January 2015
What are the long-term ramifications for young people of an education that stifles creativity?Mark A'Bear, Huffington Post, 25 October 2013
As part of his quest for greater academic rigour, the Education Secretary plans to remove all arts subjects except English from the top tier of his EbaccRoger Mavity, Independent, 28 January 2013
We don’t learn to be creative. We must become creative people.August Turak, Forbes, 22 May 2011
Everybody wants a creative child – in theory. The reality of creativity, however, is a little more complicated, as creative thoughts tend to emerge when we’re distracted, daydreaming, disinhibited and not following the rules.Jonah Lehrer, Science Blogs, 12 March 2010
Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.Ken Robinson, TED, 1 February 2006
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