Unlocking the creative potential in your school

Reading time: 2 minutes. Relevant opportunity: Weekly creative challenge

Jo Hunter, co-founder and CEO, 64 Million Artists, exhorts teachers to join their campaign ‘to unlock the creative potential of every human being in Britain’

Among the many definitions of creativity, my favourite is from dictionary.com: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.

All the innovation, problem solving and risk taking in the world, regardless of sector, comes from people being creative. Whatever we do in our jobs it requires some level of creativity. Creativity is hugely central to a teacher’s role but, with the growing pressures that teachers face, this vital skill is often overlooked when it comes to professional development. Somewhere along the line we seem to lose sight of it. We make creativity synonymous with ‘arty’ subjects and pigeonhole ourselves as either creative or not. We see it as a skill we either do or don’t have; some people are great at it and others aren’t.

At 64 Million Artists we believe that we are all creative, and when we cultivate that ability we can create change in our lives and in the world around us. We are all born instinctively able to transcend traditional ideas, rules and patterns and make up stuff. We do it naturally, as children we are encouraged to do it. But often as we grow older, a focus on right and wrong, good and bad ways of doing things impedes our ability to innovate and take risks as we did before.

Creativity declines after age five

In this study from NASA, children at the age of five were tested on their ability to ‘develop new, interesting and innovative ideas’. Ninety-eight pecent of them were in the ‘genius’ category for this. By age 10 it had fallen to 30% and by 15 only 12%. With Pisa considering how it might measure creativity we wanted to look at how we could begin to think about preserving or reawakening the innate quality of creativity in both pupils and teachers by weaving it into more aspects of daily life.

Along with Festival Bridge we will be trialing a series of whole-school experiments for reigniting or preserving creativity in a fun and easy way that allows it to be embedded in a school’s day-to-day life. We run an annual January Challenge, a 31-day series of short creative challenges for people to do, think about and share with each other. This year, 7500 people took part (including several teachers). The challenge was associated with a 90% increase in wellbeing, as well as reported improved connections between participants, a sense of community and collective endeavour and increased confidence in their creativity. You can read more about it in our report.

Based on this model, and a similar one we adapted for schools, we will be testing out an approach to using daily challenges to reawaken creativity in both teachers and pupils. They will be designed to develop a growth mindset and a greater sense of agency over how they can express themselves. To run alongside this, we’ve developed some resources.

Things you could try:

  • Spending five minutes in the morning trying out something new. You can find lots of ideas at dothinkshare.com. Or ask the people in your class to take on responsibility for setting the whole class a challenge that day.
  • Doing the 64 Million Artists Weekly Challenge or January Challenge collectively as a school (it’s free and you can sign up here)
  • Use a noticeboard or social media to share your results, or two minutes in the staff meeting to find out how it’s going. Maybe you could challenge another school to have a go too and compare results?

We’ll be sharing more of the experiments but in the meantime do drop us a line if you’d like to be part of it, or have thoughts to contribute.

To find out more about our work and follow our progress with the work in schools you can visit our website http://www.64millionartists.com/ or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Has your school embedded a culture of creativity? Get in touch with your relationship manager about sharing your story on the SSAT blog or Journal: email RMTeam@ssatuk.co.uk.

Read on the SSAT blog: Are we educating children out of creativity?

Follow Jo Hunter on Twitter

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