So here we are, facing yet another shake-up of the English education system, with the emphasis still on core academic subjects and rigorous testing. Ahem and excuse me, but what about that non-transferable and non-testable vital ingredient of a successful life – creativity?
When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing knowledge ~ Albert Einstein
Little children learn to be adults through imaginative role-play, pretending to be mummies and daddies, doctors, teachers, engine-drivers, soldiers, window-cleaners, cafe-owners…
Older children and adults make important decisions by imagining different outcomes – ‘If I did that course, I might become a chemist… then I’d work in a laboratory… or I might be a teacher… I could do that anywhere, in a city centre or a remote island… I could work overseas… or be an independent tutor…’
We make the most trivial of decisions in the same way. ‘If I go shopping right now, I might bump into Donna… she might be angry with me because I got the job she was going for… or she might be happy for me, if she didn’t really want it anyway… or I could go later when she’ll be picking up the kids… but by then they might have sold out of saffron buns…’
We make up stories all the time, quite unconsciously. They give us direction and certainty. If we develop this innate ability further through creative activities, we can explore more complicated issues; we can try on other people’s stories, which helps us to develop empathy and a deeper understanding of what life is.
Creative writing gives us access to experiences we would never have in our own lives.We can imagine ever further, extending the limits of our self.
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world ~ Albert Einstein
Creative dreaming is the same. If we unhook dreams from the shackles of interpretation, they also become experience for the self, just like waking life, opportunities to go to places and meet people and have adventures and insights beyond our normal range.
You don’t have to teach creativity – you have to allow it; you have to nurture and value it. You can’t measure and assess it, the way you can test academic knowledge.
But imagination is the start point of everything in life, including learning. We shouldn’t be trying to cut children off from their inner world, by loading the curriculum with academic subjects and stealing more and more of their free time for homework and extra tuition.
Children in the UK are among the least happy in the developed world, and they are also among the most tested. But even if happiness is low on our priorities, it makes no sense educationally to focus everything on academic subjects and intellectual skills, because the story-making mind is the seedbed from which knowledge and understanding grow.
The mind can proceed only so far upon what it knows and can prove. There comes a point where the mind takes a higher plane of knowledge, but can never prove how it got there. All great discoveries have involved such a leap ~ Albert Einstein
That’s it. I have nothing more to say. I’m completely fed up with politicians on both sides of the House narrowing our children’s abilities and aspirations, and harming their happiness, through their obsession with ‘rigour’, ‘standards’ and testing. But please feel free to add your own views in the comments!