Putting creativity at the heart of our education system

Posted on 10th January 2019

In an article for TES, Alice McNeill, Head of Partnerships, Initial Teacher Training, Academic Tracking and EPQs at Bedales School, argues for the importance of creativity in the modern school curriculum, and offers a manifesto for change.

It is now well over a decade since Sir Ken Robinson’s seminal TED talk on creativity, making the case that it should be as important as literacy and numeracy in anticipation of an uncertain future. Alice points to the problems posed by a stifling emphasis on assessment and GCSE, and A Level reforms resulting in a narrowed curriculum, despite the urgings of figures such as Sir Anthony Seldon that technological developments like artificial intelligence will challenge the educational status quo.

However, Alice observes that despite various commentators stressing the point, there has been little advice on how the ‘creativity gap’ might be filled. In response, she offers a manifesto for change – starting with a fresh definition of creativity. She explains: “A creative education is the remedy to a great number of problems with our system, and ‘the ability or power to create, to make something’, has to be at its heart”, adding that schools should make it part of their mission statements. Educators have much to take from the excitement of discovery and invention that is an everyday sight in Reception classes, she says, and schools should be an ever-evolving display of student creativity.

A creative education transforms students from being passive recipients of information to active participants – a process that both shapes their futures and enriches society. And a creative project-based education, says Alice, sees students experience boredom, frustration, doubt, and often want to give up. These, she says, “are all essential parts of the creative process that students must be facilitated to experience and to cope with. Nothing could be a better lesson to learn at school.”

The full article incorporating Alice’s 10-point plan, can be read on the TES website (subscription may be required).

TES | Alice McNeill | Sir Ken Robinson TED talk | Sir Anthony Seldon