In last week’s article, I spoke about preparing students for careers that don’t yet exist. This week, ISQ released a media article “Australia’s Future Worker will be a Lifetime Learner” https://www.isq.qld.edu.au/publications-resources/posts/australia-s-future-worker-will-be-a-lifetime-learner-isq-state-forum/ The article highlighted that today’s students will not only spend over 30% more of their lifetime learning, they will also focus on learning skills rather than jobs.
One of the essential 21st century skills they will need is creativity. Creativity is foundational to the Australian Curriculum, which students study until Year 10. ACARA states, “Responding to the challenges of the twenty-first century – with its complex environmental, social and economic pressures – requires young people to be creative, innovative, enterprising and adaptable, with the motivation, confidence and skills to use critical and creative thinking purposefully”. Creative thinking, which includes the skill of creativity, is also one of the capabilities students will need when they study for the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE) in Years 11 and 12. The QCAA believes “21st century skills will help prepare Queensland students by giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to be equipped for the demands of higher education, work and life, and to participate effectively in the community and the economy in a complex and rapidly changing world”.
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to attend a breakfast where Sir Ken Robinson was the guest speaker. As a British author, speaker and international advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies, he was passionate about the promotion of creativity in schools, stating that “creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”. He believed that schools should promote curiosity through creative teaching. He also believed education should focus on awakening creativity through alternative didactic processes that put less emphasis on standardised testing. His TED talks on creativity have been viewed over 80 million times and in 2003 he received a knighthood for his contributions to education. Sadly, he passed away from cancer in August 2020.
We naturally think of The Arts as the place for creativity and certainly it is easy to see creativity in Visual Art, Dance, Drama and Music. Last week when I visited our art room with Ms Boicos, I was in awe of the standard of work I saw. So were the prospective families who toured with me later that day! I am sure you will agree when you look at the photos below (slideshow), the quality of our girls’ work is quite simply amazing.
Creativity is very evident in the classroom learning in Art, Music, Drama and in Dance. It’s also easy to see as we watch the girls prepare to perform Annie Jnr in July and in the work the girls’ produce in Playwrights’ Club, Drama Club and Art Club. However, it is important to recognise that creativity is not just the domain of The Arts Faculty.
According to Sir Ken Robinson, creativity is “the process of having original ideas that have value”. Creative thinking involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome. It is, therefore, something that can and should be taught in any subject. Robinson stated that “the very future of our civilization hinges upon the creative capabilities of young people and that one of the most important things we can do in schools is foster creativity”.
Creativity is fostered at Girls Grammar across the curriculum and across all year levels. Some examples include:
Our STEAM Enrichment Club recently completed a two-week engineering challenge wherein they completed two tasks. The first was to create the tallest tower on a set footprint using only marshmallows and uncooked spaghetti. The winning group created a 61cm tower. Secondly, students were asked to construct a bridge of their own design made from paddle pop sticks. The bridges were then tested to see how much weight each could hold. The successful design carried a total mass of 3.125kg.
Our Mathematics Extension girls meet every week to work in teams to find creative solutions to complex problems. In addition, the school finds opportunities for the girls to participate in a range of competitions, including Maths Teams Challenge, to test their original ideas in a competitive environment.
The Food and Textiles students explore new ideas in their everyday work. For example, our Year 10 students had to up-cycle a pair of jeans into a useable product. This provided the girls an opportunity to express their creative abilities whilst testing their sewing and production skills.
Our Year 2 class investigated materials and the effects of combining them. This saw them use their creativity to design a lunch bag that was both strong and waterproof. The girls excelled in designing, making, testing, and then appraising their project.
Our Year 11 cohort uses their creativity to theme, plan and produce the annual School Party.
In the upper primary, students design and create an original and functioning percussion instrument. The task requires students to think flexibly, ask a number of questions, experiment and test their final product, resulting in amazingly creative designs.
Year 8 Science students design a new toy or a game or a Rube Goldberg machine, a machine intentionally designed to perform a simple task in an indirect and overly complicated way. The task allows students to select an option that they believe will best demonstrate their understanding of their learning in relation to energy transfers and transformations. At the completion of the task, all students must describe the energy transformations involved and how they act, as well as present their idea in an engaging way, reporting on their findings via journal and formal Audio-visual presentation.
Our Year 6, 8 and 10 students will be provided the opportunity to sit ACER’s Creative and Critical Thinking test before the end of July. These tests assess students’ ability to generate and manipulate ideas and provide valuable baseline data to support teachers in developing and evaluating students’ creative thinking skills.
Why is Creativity Important?
Creativity engages the mind and encourages alternative and non-linear ways of thinking.
It encourages new ideas and innovation.
Creativity allows hidden talents and inner capacities to emerge. It connects us with our passions.
It brings people together and nurtures skills in teamwork and cooperation.
Creativity challenges and thrives on mistakes. It supports resilience.
Creativity nurtures confidence.
Creativity instils curiosity by encouraging questions.
Creativity is participatory and interactive. When engaging with creativity, young people are not passively listening/absorbing, but are exploring, discovering and communicating.
Creativity stimulates and motivates.
Creativity is fun and surprising.
Creativity engages different learning styles.
Employers today are looking for students who can produce original ideas to solve problems and exploit opportunities. Creativity is an integral part of modern work as the ability to manage, organise, cultivate and nurture creative thinking is directly linked to organisational growth and achievement.
How can parents support their daughters to foster creativity?
There are many ways that parents can facilitate opportunities for children to develop creativity.
Provide time for unstructured, child directed, imaginative play.
Provide art, writing and construction materials.
Rather than providing an answer, encourage children to ask questions when they don’t know the answer to something.
Encourage reading for pleasure which can help understanding, aids the development of expression and logical thinking, and helps them to focus on learning new things.
Ensure they have time away from screens which will allow space for creativity and opportunities to see the world outside that which is represented on the screen.
Emphasise process over product - the process of creating something is often more important than the end result so encourage creativity by allowing children to ‘figure it out’ by themselves.
Encourage risks in learning - trying something new or participating in an activity that is out of their comfort zone, can be difficult for some children. Foster the belief that it is okay to make mistakes, that creativity can bring with it failure, but the learning occurs in trying and experimenting.
Immerse them in history, culture and art by visiting museums and galleries. Take them to the ballet, a music concert, or to a new experience. Children who have been given the opportunity to experience diversity, are much more open to being inspired creatively.
To be prepared for our increasingly complex world, our children need to have a range of opportunities, inside and outside the classroom, to develop creativity. Students can learn how to be creative by solving problems, creating systems or just trying something they haven’t tried before. It is through a range of activities, at school, at home and during leisure, that our girls can build the important life skill of creative confidence.