We all know that children are creative – it’s a fact. You only have to look at the boundless energy of a group of toddlers playing to see this creativity in action. So if we all start off like this what happens to us in life to knock this out of us? It seems fair to say that, for a lot of people, school has a great part to play in this change. It’s at school where something serious happens to us to such an extent that by the time most children get to the end of primary school they’ve learnt to keep a lid on this exuberance and approach learning in a much more controlled and prescriptive way.
“Do I need to know this for my exams?” is the question that children frequently ask by the time they get to secondary school. It is as though the excitement of education has bypassed them entirely and that all they now care about is learning by rote the facts and figures that need to be absorbed to pass the exams that will let them progress to more courses where they will be fed more and more information. Mindless information robots being programmed for life…
I work in a lot of schools and it really makes me sad to see children being forced to learn by this by teachers who would mostly like to do things in a different way. Who hate the curriculum almost as much as the people they have to teach it to. It’s good to see though, that there are still plenty of schools out there who manage to inspire their pupils and foster and excitment and passion about learning, often in the most challenging situations. These are the schools where children are supported to love learning. Where they are allowed to have good ideas, make a mess, play, make mistakes, discover things, do things differently, to use their imaginations. As Pablo Picasso put it:
“All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up.”
So that’s the challenge then. To let all children maintain the hidden artist they were born with and to foster the creative thinking that brings. And why should we be doing this? Because the future is all about ideas and answers to the big problems that we’ve got in the world and these children in classrooms all over the country, and the world, need to be allowed to fly so they can become the thinkers that the planet so desperately needs.