Creativity across Learning #2 – Why is creativity important?

In this second post I want to to set the context by returning to the unpublished Learning and Teaching Scotland Advisory Group document of 2011. The text below is all drawn from a draft of ‘Creativity across Learning’ and should be seen as the efforts of an ‘expert’ group rather than my own work.

The introduction started off with a quote from the Scottish Government’s Excellence Group on ‘Higher Order Skills’ [which I can’t seem to find online anymore???]:

In a small developed country like Scotland with the aspiration to maintain a high wage economy, economic issues are of great importance. There requires to be an understanding of the link between the prosperity of the national economy and the employment prospects of the individual. The curriculum needs to foster the development of the skills and attitudes that underpin enterprise, creativity, sustainable development and the ability to compete successfully in high added value areas of activity.  Even relatively small improvements in these areas can have large impacts on social as well as economic wellbeing by reducing disadvantage and alienation while at the same time releasing untapped potential.
(Scottish Government
Higher Order Skills Excellence Group) 

If this is accepted then the challenge for every society is how best to enable its citizens to acquire the knowledge, skills and competences necessary for success in our rapidly changing and turbulent world. It is in this context that creativity is becoming increasingly recognised as at the heart of all learning for all of us. Creativity is a crucial agent of transformation for Scottish education, at the very core of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE).

A good basic education may have been the best inoculation against poverty in the past but it takes the spark of ingenuity, innovation, adaptive competence and creativity for people to thrive in today’s world.  This is a central tenet of CfE, and if we are to succeed in taking forward this challenging agenda, both the culture of education and educational systems need to change to support it.

Curriculum for Excellence is …Scotland’s educational response to the new demands and challenges posed by global change. This change is rapid, accelerating, pervasive and profound. It embraces technological and economic change but also change in custom and belief. Few aspects of life are being left untouched.(Higher Order Skills Excellence Group, 2011)

It is difficult to deny that traditionally creativity has been a low priority in our thinking about school education and the curriculum. This has been the situation not only because of often narrow perceptions of how learning takes place, the primacy given to curriculum content and constraints of timetabling practices, but also because the cultivation of creativity tends to make classroom organisation more complex, lessons more fluid and outcomes less predictable. Fostering young people’s creativity presents significant and demanding challenges to both schools and the wider community.

Teachers can therefore feel real tensions when it comes to the curriculum. They know that there is often too much thinking and learning done in tidy boxes with too few opportunities to make connections across curriculum areas to ‘join-up’ learning. The pressure of time and the constraints of the timetable and our subject-based qualifications framework have often militated against meaningful and sustainable innovation in the classroom.

However, if Curriculum for Excellence is to succeed, the role of creativity as an essential dimension of thinking and learning must be strengthened, with interdisciplinary learning and the skills framework seen not as alternatives to depth, but rather as another means of developing creativity in and through the curriculum.

An emphasis on higher order skills is … integral to Curriculum for Excellence. It is an inescapable consequence of the social and economic realities of the twenty-first century; the need to evaluate increasingly complex issues, the ability to compete on creativity and quality rather than scale and cost, the capacity to anticipate the ‘next big thing’, and the agility to respond quickly and effectively.
(Higher Order Skills Excellence Group, 2011)

For every teacher and every learner Curriculum for Excellence must above all be a curriculum where excellence and creativity become synonymous.

[In the next post the focus is on defining our terms –  what we do we actually mean by creativity?]

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