Traditional schools, state schools, religious schools, grammar schools, special schools …. none has the perfect educational recipe, but all can do with an extra touch of creativity.
Just as the human race cannot be standardized, neither should schools be. Different schools are needed for different people, it seems like simple logic, however education has not evolved to meet modern societal needs and challenges. Why are students still taught to repeat information like formatted robots rather than to think for themselves?
“Tell me and I’ll forget. Teach me and I’ll learn. Involve me and I’ll remember.” Benjamin Franklin
Believe it or not, this quote dates back to the 18thCentury, and was inspired by a similar citation by Confucious in 450BC. It has been clear and proven for centuries that the best way to learn is not by passively absorbing information but by actively doing. It’s all about getting involved.
The role of education should be to recognize and boost talents, help students appreciate culture and become engaged passionate citizens who will develop a balanced economy that is respectful of the environment and its inhabitants.
Students need to be taught skills more than knowledge. Sparking curiosity in their minds will help stimulate engagement in the learning process and find answers to their own questions.
What essential skills need to be taught?
Confidence, communication, composure (mindfulness)
There are fundamental psychological needs to be catered for and children are driven to meet these needs all the time. Love and belonging, security and order, personal power and competence, freedom and fun need to be addressed in the classroom. As a result, students are happier to be there, behavior incidents are less frequent and learning increases. Teaching children the polite act of verbal greetings, the importance of eye-contact during communication and composure gives them greater self-awareness and confidence. Mindfulness and meditation are increasingly popular in education systems as the positive effects on concentration and inner-balance are scientifically proven. These include a reduction of anxiety and stress, the increase of focus and a greater sense of wellbeing. See article on wonder.
Collaboration, community and compassion
When children and students are given group projects, they are invited to collaborate, share ideas and find solutions. This shared purpose show people they really matter, as individuals and as part of something bigger. Working together, learning to be compassionate and empathetic builds a sense of community. This is challenging of course, as it implies setting rules, dealing with problems, different characters and opinions, respecting others and having a certain discipline. However, they are the first building blocks to consolidating good future citizens. See article on Interconnectedness
Creativity, curiosity and criticism
A creative mind is certainly a divine force. The ability to play and dance with ideas makes the sky the limit and anything possible. It also means having an open, curious and critical mind.
Children are naturally born full of creativity and freedom. These wonderful gifts should be nurtured both inside and outside educations systems to focus on the development the mind and the body. What makes us so unique as individuals is the development of these diverse talents.
Just as teachers should be creative in their methods by making learning fun and getting children involved in different ways, students should challenge themselves and others by trying new experiences. See article on edutainment. Also, when reading or searching for answers, students should question these with a critical mind. Accepting information and believing everything we read is a thing of the past. Fake news is everywhere so it’s essential to search for the truth. Making mistakes and learning from them are also invaluable experiences to come up with unique solutions.
Citizenship, culture and contribution
It is essential to teach children to respect themselves, each other and not to judge. This is of course easier said than done and as adults, teachers, parents, we give the example that they follow. We should therefore make sure we practice what we preach. See article on cultural education. Establishing rules and involving children in the process makes them take an active part of the decisions in order to avoid conflict. When these rules are not respected, an interesting discussion about logical consequences and authority can take place. If they set the rules, they must abide by them without “negotiating” and take responsibility. Structure and repetition help build routine and create a feeling of safety. Discipline is not a negative word but an accepted code of conduct that reassures and protects children. Children also need to learn to “give back” and participate in community projects with people in need, animals, or the environment, do volunteer work and feel the fulfilling sensation of helping others.
Would it not be interesting to promote education in the same way as organic farming? Striving for a healthy, ecologic, fair and caring systems that benefits all players?
Creative teachers inspire children
In most education systems, there’s no distinction between good and bad teachers, so often no stimulus for teachers to adapt and do better. However, if being a teacher was recognized as a “privileged” job, like in Finland where they are naturally given trust, respect and freedom to do their jobs, teachers are persistently more generous, diligent, patient and insightful, adapting to the specific needs of their students.
Lastly, let’s not forget that education starts at home. Some of the most enriching experiences happen outside school, family gatherings, exhibitions, trips, sports, activities, music, art, dance.
The opportunities of contributing to the development of creative kids are endless!