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The thinks you can think

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try”. 
Dr Seuss 

Creativity is something you have to work at in a school because, according to a great many successfully active creative thinkers and doers, schools and the very process of growing up are pretty good at beating out the spark rather than fostering its subtle flames. Picasso famously observed that every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up. I think all parents would instinctively agree with what he says in terms of watching their own children’s self-confidence about expression when in primary school and how things change with the self-consciousness of adolescence. 

It’s also a big ask to tell a child or adolescent “Be creative!” What does that even mean? Where do you start? I think it’s important therefore to build creative thinking and the opportunity for creative doing into all aspects of a school curriculum, wherever and whenever you can. I don’t pretend that this is always easy (being creative about the gerundive of obligation can defeat you on a damp Friday afternoon) but I do think it’s the critical aim of all teaching and learning. Open wide the windows and let in the air. To quote Vinegar Joe’s certainly very creative use of the gerundive of obligation, non illigitimis carborundum

The advantages of retaining the childhood spark of creativity into self-conscious adolescence and then professional adulthood are, in my view, too obvious for words. I don’t see that these need rehearsing or defending (but if you do, look at anything Ken Robinson or Bill Gates say). The bit that I think matters and does need asserting loud and clear is that after a decade or more of measuring the pig (through league tables of schools, through examination and assessment change, et cetera…) we should have learned how arid and useless that activity is in terms of creating well-rounded, happy, successful, creative, contributive young men and women. And frankly I don’t think education has any other purpose than producing just that. 

Time to stop treating children as widgets, figures, statistics. By all means ensure all children receive an equal opportunity to enrich their lives through learning. It’s about time we did. But define education as an active, creative, two-way engagement, not as some dead hand of what must be learned. Stop encouraging only a focus on core curriculum; stop telling children what they can’t do, what they are no good at. 

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try”……