Why is creativity and innovation key to great thinking?

Is there a tension between imparting knowledge and encouraging creativity? So much of the conversation in schools is about thinking levels and Bloom’s Taxonomy. The aim is to encourage pupils to not just assimilate and show understanding, but to change or create what they know into something new. To really show their excellent thinking skills, we ask them to innovate, improve, invent, transform, speculate or devise. This week, we celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day and this gave us a chance to sit back and consider why or if it is important in education. 

What do we mean by creativity?

At school, space and time for creative activities is a must. At Meta Prep, we remind our pupils that this is the place ‘where Metacognition comes first’ and that can only happen when space is given for self-reflection, imaginative and inventive thinking. Firstly, creativity and innovation can happen individually or in groups inviting everyone to contribute ideas. Secondly, to encourage creativity, a child should be able to design, write or draw without any restrictions at all and certainly not being told they are wrong. 

Moreover, cnce a creative idea becomes a passion or something more intense, then we can talk about how to corral the ideas, develop business plans and strategies, and find ways to extend their innovative ideas. Remember, from the start we should be encouraging independence without restrictions. If no parameters are given at the beginning of a project it is amazing to see what can be devised and imagined. 

Why is it so important? We want our children to be good problem solvers and independent learners. We want them to feel confident in themselves and their potential. Encouraging creativity and innovation allows children to find their voice. By exploring and visualising, they will adopt these habits regularly and see themselves as a problem-solver or a designer. 

Where can we find the inspiration for new ideas? 

The world is a magical place, inspiration can easily be found if only we put ourselves out there and explore. We can physically go outside: by walking the streets; travelling to a different country; or visiting a museum or art gallery. Stop and listen to the sounds of different birds, examine the funny shaped splodge on buildings (what does it look like?) and feel the flowers in the park. Through this sensory input, new ideas can form for a story or design. 

Other ways to ‘go outside’ and increase our knowledge of the world could be through reading books, magazines, graphic novels and newspapers. Head down to the library or run a quick google search to find out more. You could also follow instagram accounts of people starting amazing companies or doing life-changing work in education, medicine, or social issues. 

Exposing ourselves to as many things as possible creates the foundation of knowledge to build on. In Anderson’s taxonomy, knowledge is the foundation stone before we can start analysing, evaluating or creating. First step is to go out and learn new things about the world. Experience it, even if it is just lying in the park and spotting bunnies in the clouds. Maybe an award-winning story will spring from that moment lying on the grass.

Ideas to boost creativity and innovation  

Sometimes it can be difficult to know how to start. We all have times when we are feeling uninspired and lack creativity. Here are some suggestions: 

  1. Start a journal 

Buy a notebook (it could have plain or lined paper) and start. Doodle, write, draw, stick things in, tear things out and most importantly: make mistakes. Do not worry about handwriting, spelling or grammar. Again, once the ideas are down and have taken some shape, the minutiae can come later. 

  1. Create an artwork 

Use art to teach someone else something. Take a place you have visited or a person who inspires you and capture it in paint; or pencil, or clay or watercolour. The beautiful thing about art is that there really is no wrong answer here. Art can be blue paint on a canvas or the most intricate pen drawing of Buckingham Palace. 

  1. Design a new product 

Have you ever wanted something but just couldn’t quite find what you were seeking? Maybe you have noticed a gap in the market? Well, how about you create your own product to fill the gap? Have you ever noticed how boring masks can be? Create your own design. What about the fact that dinosaurs only seem to be on “boys” clothes and unicorns only seem to be on “girls” clothes. Design your own clothing line that has unicorns and dinosaurs on clothes for all children. Do you wish you had a device that cleaned up your room for you? Could you plan a prototype? 

  1. Build a mood board 

Start a mood board, which can simply be an area on the wall or a poster board, to stick pictures, cuttings, drawings and writings. Your child might often feel uninspired and feel like they are not very creative. Help them out by noticing things they have talked about or taken an interest in and start sticking them up. As the board builds, children can start to see their own creativity and start adding to the board as well. If they feel stuck, they can go back to the board for inspiration of things that have inspired them in the past.

Let’s get creative. Knowledge is where it starts, but by giving free rein to expression and new ideas, skills can flourish and strengthen. Where your child has attempted a creative activity, please send us an example to contact@metaprep.co.uk