How can we encourage creativity in the classroom?

Deborah Fisher – Head of SIMS Independent, Capita – has some pertinent suggestions to share

Can schools help children develop creativity for future success?

Creativity is not only important to great musicians and artists. These skills are the foundation stone of innovation and a common trait in many entrepreneurs.

But in a workplace survey recently conducted by RADA in Business, the commercial subsidiary of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, a staggering 81% of staff said their employers failed to create a culture that encourages new ideas and experimentation.

It seems to me that this could be a huge wasted opportunity for business.

So, what can schools do to ensure they champion creativity in all its forms? And importantly, how can they encourage children to value it as they move through school and into their chosen careers?

Give children opportunities to share their views

One school I know fosters creativity by encouraging children to consider and share their views in classroom discussions. Staff have developed an effective technique for feeding their pupils’ imaginations.

The children are presented with a question where there is no defined answer. It might be something like “What animal is the bravest?” or the “Is Batman a super-hero?” There is no correct or incorrect answer, it simply sparks a discussion.

Not all children are naturally outgoing but this can be a great way to ignite their imagination, give them a platform to explore their thoughts and opinions, and also teach them to value the contribution of others.

This is a tool the school encourages parents to employ too, as it works just as well when a family is in the car, enjoying a meal out or gathered together on the sofa at home.

Recognise and reward creative skills

Most children are familiar with the concept of earning merits in school for listening or behaving well in class, but a head I spoke to recently has taken this idea one step further.

His students are rewarded for displaying creative skills, too, such as being inquisitive, collaborative and imaginative, both inside and outside lessons. This particular school shares the merits with parents online so they can congratulate their children for their creativity at home. It really encourages them to apply these skills in all areas of their lives.

Some schools offer their students the option to download an app onto their mobile phone or tablet so they can see their merit points as they accumulate, creating a healthy environment for them to aim for their personal best or compete with their peers to achieve the most rewards for creative thinking each week.

Start early

Children today are the business owners and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. There is much that schools can do, to support their pupils in developing key creative skills to ensure inspiration, imagination and innovation are nurtured and valued for the benefit of tomorrow.

I’d be interested to hear about the initiatives have you launched in your school that inspire creative thinking.

And if you’re interested in finding out more about how technology can help your school deliver a rounded education, click here.

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