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Dear Creativity,

You are the subject of books, blog posts, videos and tweets. I must ask you, is there anything a teacher can do to help a student that struggles to develop an original idea?

In Orbiting the Giant Hairball, Gordon MacKenzie describes how the desire to be an artist disappears quite suddenly from young students as they progress through school. Why should this be a concern? We can't all grow up to be artists, can we? Well, as Daniel Pink explained in his book A Whole New Mind, the creative industries are of primary importance to our economies. “The future belongs to a different kind of person" Pink says. “Designers, inventors, teachers, storytellers — creative and empathetic right-brain thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn't.”

To underestimate the importance of art and creativity in society is to misunderstand the economics of life. It is to stare too long at numbers which don't take into account a multitude of other, hard to measure factors. This is a growing cause of blunders, gaffes and errors in our modern world. Just like when world woke up to realise that sustainability had been missing from many economic models and company profit forecasts, I believe something similar is happening with creativity.

In 2011 the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, told the MediaGuardian at the Edinburgh International TV festival: "Over the past century, the UK has stopped nurturing its polymaths. You need to bring art and science back together." Google prize creative problem solving in its employees and from its inception it wasn’t afraid to dream big! A company’s best ideas are always its most creative, be it the deconstruction of a complex problem into a simple solution or the spark of genius which connects a new unforeseen factor to an existing issue.

Creativity in all its guises and disguises encourages self-expression and helps to develop unique talents and thinking. It is inspiring, exciting and perhaps the love of thought in its purest form. A mathematician constructing and deconstructing a complex equation. A storyteller articulating their finale. A jazz musician responding to key change. In each example their creative instinct to look at a problem differently helps them transcend the expected and innovate.

Inspired by great thinkers on the importance of creativity in schools, my co-founder and I have created Night Zookeeper (website and school project) to put creativity at the very center of achievement, in the classroom and at home. The project explores the ways we can encourage and nurture creativity.

If you would like to find out more about Night Zookeeper please visit http://www.nightzookeeper.com/

Views: 70

Tags: Creativity, Night, Pink, Schmidt, Zookeeper, storytellers, teachers

Comment by Ross Mannell on April 3, 2012 at 15:43

Hello Night Zookeeper,


After following your exploits with classes, I have to say Creativity has touched you and been passed on to the children involved as well as people like myself. We can see the loss of creativity in children when they are more concerned with what the teacher or parent thinks of what they create more than enjoying the process of creation.

I remember one encounter with a ten year old child a number of years back. She asked what I thought of her latest painting. I directed the question back to her.

"I think it's terrible," she said.

I smiled at her, knowing I was dealing with a smart girl, "Then I agree, it's terrible."

She sat at her table for a moment then returned, "Mr Mannell, what do you think of my painting?"

I repeated the question to her.

She smiled, "I think it's the most beautiful painting I've ever made."

Returning her smile, "I think so too. Your use of colour and your brush work is brilliant."

I then added, "When we create things, we do it to let out what's inside us. It should be something we enjoy. If others enjoy it as well, that's a bonus."

When does a child go from creating for the sheer joy of doing to one more concerned with the opinion of others? It's a great loss and one I have always tried to overcome by being positive and encouraging with all children, regardless of their perceived capabilities, whether their expression is through writing, art, craft, drama, or music.

We need to encourage their creativity and allow them to grow with it intact. The Night Zookeeper allows children to express themselves through writing and art. Creativity is alive and well in the Night Zookeeper’s zoo.



Teacher, NSW, Australia

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