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why creativity matters

When I think about our education system, I always think it's a bit like old apps: there's nothing wrong with them, but more modern apps aren't burdened with old code - they just work better. Anything that's been built with archaic architecture, then built upon and improved upon from there, is likely to be a bit clunky. For me, that's what our education system is, clunky, and designed for an era where factory workers, slide rules and empires were in. If we were to start from scratch now and build a system, I doubt it would look like our current one. Teachers, who I have nothing but respect for, are beholden to the whims of politicians, who think, for no reason I can pin down, understanding grammar on a mechanical level, for example, is a good idea: why this isn't a good idea, is a whole other blog post.

However, we're stuck with it - and what is the problem with that? Well, in short, it doesn't play well to our innate, and world shaping strength: creativity. There's a reason your child plays rather than sticks an overall on and gets to work: play is learning and discovery. While we have to do some graft, that's a given, play is how we truly learn, and innovate: it starts as a four-year-old making up an epic tale while drawing a picture and singing a song all at the same time, and twenty years later that four year old might be a scientist who sees things differently enough to find a world beating solution no one else could think of, or might be the innovator who imagines we can create that sci-fi technology.

You can't create what you can't imagine - and it's visionary thinking that has given us civilisation. Imagine, twenty years ago, if you had asserted your touch screen phone would let you facetime your mum - but here we are.

What is also true, is that children who have high cultural capital, will have better attainment academically anyhow: there really is no downside to immersing your child in creative pastimes and letting them explore through play. If you really want great exam results for them, then this is how to get them, just avoid pressuring them, since when did that work?

what can I do for my child?

To combat the treadmill that is school, there are a few key things you can do:

1- give your child lots of cultural capital - anything and everything that's contact with the arts is good, especially if your child is also the author of the art, let them create.

2- find a school which values the whole child, and sees enrichment as part of the curriculum.

3- this will be the same school which gives your child ownership, confidence, and has great leadership

4 - get your child in to the arts: music, drama, literature, dance, painting - there's no one artform that's better than the others they all count

5- work hard to give your child confidence in their ideas

6- give your child as much time and space as you can to play and explore in traditional ways, whether it's building dens or drawing pictures, or engaging their toys in role play.

It's never too early to start, in fact, early contact and attainment is key. If a child doesn't have exposure to enough vocabulary by the time they start school, for example, they have difficulty cognitively processing what is being said to them.

your child doesn't need a tutor at five, calm down

If you really want your child to do well academically, leave them to learn in a way that's commensurate with their age - let them learn through play, which is how we have evolved to learn as children, and stop trying to give them the jump academically with tutelage in their early years, it's going to be counter-productive. You're not trying to grow a living slide rule, it doesn't matter if they don't know their five times table. We live in a new and wonderful world, where you can have a deep philosophical understanding of maths and know jack about 5 x 13: we don't need walking calculators, we need the geniuses that will save our planet and imagine new and unknowable things: the days of requiring calculations on the factory floor are over, and thank god they are. Don't take my word for the power of creativity, though, Sir Ken Robinson said it much better: click on the link below, you won't regret it.

Sir Ken Robinson | Speaker | TED

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