I woke this morning to the news that the BBC had conducted some research into the state of creative subjects in the secondary school curriculum only to find that many of the arts subjects were being cut.
They approached 1200 schools (over 40% of the secondary schools in the UK) and 9 out of 10 told them they had cut back on lesson time, resources, staffing and facilities in at least one creative subject including music, art drama and design technology.
Sadly, I am not surprised. This has been a steady decline over the last 20 years and you can hardly blame young people. When they make their GCSE choices they are already encouraged to think about university or their career, if they don’t want to study further. I wouldn’t blame any parent from steering them away from creative subjects because I don’t believe our society understand how to celebrate creativity, let alone imagine how little Johnny or Jenny will ever earn a living as an artist.
Our society has become so narrow-minded. As a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (the full title is the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) this is a subject that regularly comes up. How do we get the public, schools, government and employers to understand how much creativity can help them? Our economy depends on it.
Being creative is essential to problem solving, and isn’t that something that everyone faces in their lives and jobs? It stimulates the brain to become more flexible and quite simply uses more brain power. Getting things wrong and adapting to your mistakes is a huge part of this.
How do we imagine that Einstein came up with his theories without a bit of creativity? What about Elon Musk, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates? Look at any business that pushes boundaries and they are packed with creative people. And you don’t just have to be at the head of a company to be creative – it’s just that no one has told you yet that you are. Ask yourself if you have ever solved a problem at work, made something work better or organised the chores at home. Bingo! You are creative.
In my first job I thought I was just a marketing assistant and a bit of a fashion victim. it wasn’t until my Marketing Director told me I was a creative thinker that my world changed. Suddenly there were no more barriers. My ideas and flights of fancy were actually in demand. It was definitely my epiphany and changed the way I saw myself.
Taking an arts subject at school for as long as possible helps students to harness this ability and I am passionate about making sure that future generations continue to benefit.
There is one man who I think speaks more eloquently about this subject than I could ever hope to. Sir Ken Robinson is very entertaining, inspiring and knowledgeable and I urge you to have a look at some of his talks. The one below gets really good about 5 minutes in.