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The importance of creative thinking

The importance of creative thinking
  • Academics

Being creative isn’t a series of one-off events. It’s a way of thinking and behaving, says Victoria Rose, Head of Art and Design. And during repeated lockdowns, both staff and pupils needed plenty of it.

Being creative isn’t a series of one-off events. It’s a way of thinking and behaving, says Victoria Rose, Head of Art and Design. And during repeated lockdowns, both staff and pupils needed plenty of it.

Creativity lives in us all – the question is how far it can grow and flourish to become something that influences others. As teachers, being conscious of that allows us to unravel the complexities and breadth of pupils’ individual creative nuances. Once they are aware of their creativity, with nurturing and encouragement, the possibilities are boundless.

Creative thinking is an essential skill in all subjects and helps pupils to approach tasks innovatively. Whether you’re on the sports field or analysing a historic artefact, finding an unexpected or different way through can win the match or argument. It takes bravery and boldness, both skills for life in general.

Connecting to our inner creativity allows us to approach tasks with fresh eyes, as advertising guru Paul Arden notes. “Whatever you think, think the opposite,” he says. Many of us fear getting it wrong but, he adds, “The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.”

Our job is to inspire pupils to embrace challenge by constant questioning, demonstrating different techniques and processes, which pupils can then use themselves. When this cycle becomes continuous, creativity is unleashed. That results in self-directed learning through experimentation.

Questioning, analysis and evaluation take you to a deeper level of learning and understanding. Being encouraged not to accept the norm promotes change. When these skills are fully embraced by both pupil and teacher, success leads to success.

And when the experience is repeated over time, fear turns to fearlessness and new qualities begin to appear, such as endurance, perseverance, open-mindedness, playfulness and originality. These characteristics allow our pupils to shine.

You might think that you don’t have a creative bone in your body but, in fact, there is a latent artist in all of us. Even those with a talent often believe it is just something they do. Whether you are a painter, filmmaker, designer, musician, or something else, it’s important to understand the worth and value of your ability.

Our job is to find your unique creativity and strengthen it.

All of our art and design (A&D) teachers have specialist areas but also have a deep understanding and awareness of all the creative pathways. By working together, we bring out the best in our students. They could have an aptitude for painting, ceramics, design, or something else that is physical. Or they might discover a love for art history or theory. The breadth is enormous.

Through continuous dialogue, and the exchange of verbal and visual ideas, a path of discovery opens up and pupils discover which aspects of A&D fit their skill set. This then helps them to select an appropriate degree course and ultimately leads to a successful career.

While many of our pupils learn by doing, in more academic subjects creativity comes from the approach you take, comparing complex issues and theories, then expressing your thoughts either in writing, visually or verbally, all of which are means of self-expression. In every case, we’re encouraging pupils to look at things differently, not simply learning by rote.

Success in A&D is largely down to using the Bauhaus ethos, which accords equal status to all artistic disciplines. We deliver a multi-disciplinary curriculum, synthesising painting and drawing, sculpture, design, textiles, printmaking, typography, photography and film. We are always looking for new materials, techniques, processes and resources to expand the breadth of creative applications on offer.

Lessons are multi-sensory by nature – using as many senses as possible enriches understanding. As Maria Montessori, founder of the eponymous schools, puts it, “The senses, being explorers of our world, open the way to knowledge.”

Cross-curricular connections are also key. Students are encouraged to base their personal investigation on theory learnt in their other subjects or to choose something that is unique to them. One pupil taking biology studied Alzheimer’s disease and incorporated mathematics through her use of typography. Pupils taking drama often integrate dance or performance art.

For the last five years, we’ve run an Art Applications course for post-GCSE pupils taking A&D at A level. It has included a day in a potter’s studio, textile design, photography, cake design, ceramics, floristry, architectural design and more. It’s a glimpse into the creative industries and profitable careers beyond university. Pupils are inspired by the experience and it confirms they’ve made the right subject choice at A Level.

The summer exhibition is a celebration of creative talent, and the showcase is always an eclectic display of skill, innovation and diversity and evidence that differentiation is at the heart of our teaching practice. The sense of achievement is enormous. It’s also competitive – something we encourage because it raises standards and is a reality in the outside world.

Being creative builds confidence and life skills. The process means taking risks, solving problems and being collaborative. These are part of any business, so we’re educating for well beyond the classroom.

The great motivator William Arthur Ward wrote, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” We aim for the last.