My eldest son is home from Uni where he is studying 3-D design. After 2 years it looks like what he most wants to do is design furniture, working with wood and metal. This is his stool based on an Egyptian throne. In fact since he’s been home he’s decided to make himself a new bed so our alleyway is littered with wood and the whole house smells of varnish.
While he was sanding the wood I found him watching one of my favourite TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson. If you have never come across this amazing man I encourage you to view the talks here.
He is described as an educationalist but is so much more than that. A professor of education, he also led the UK commission on creativity, education and the economy in 1998. These days he is an internationally recognised leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business.
For me, his championing of creativity in education is what resonates the most with me . Broadly he argues that if children aren’t allowed to develop their creativity, they may not be able to unlock their problem solving abilities and that is crucial. It’s not just crafts people that need to be creative. Everyone from scientists to entrepreneurs, from doctors to care workers need to be able to problem solve, to make decisions about a situation and move it forward. Without imagination, and the ability to see a situation in 360 degrees rather than in a linear way, our world just wouldn’t progress. And it has been this way for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. How do you think man invented the wheel? How did Sir Isaac Newton make that quantum leap from a falling apple to uncovering the secrets of gravity? How did we get to the moon?
Yet our children are tested and examined like never before. I understand that government needs to know our future generations are able to read and write, but what about the qualitative side of education. Children are all unique and develop at completely different rates. They need to have the room to breathe instead of worrying about the next exam. They need to be allowed to be creative and express themselves in whichever way they are comfortable with. As anxiety among young people increases in such a stellar way, surely there is a better way to nurture them? I firmly believe that putting creativity at the heart of our education system is not only fundamental but just plain exciting.
Oh yes, and Sir Ken is pretty funny as well.