There is a lot of energy being devoted to creativity in education at the moment. Creativity is a highly sought after and teachable competency that, rightfully, sits near the top of any list of so-called 21st century skills. And so, it’s exciting to see schools around the world embracing creativity and attempting to better understand how to harness it to enhance pedagogy and how to teach it.
There’s much less energy being devoted to bravery. Yet, the type of creativity we desire is fuelled by bravery. Meaningful creativity that contributes to a better world somehow, requires students to be willing to stand out, to think differently, to challenge the status quo, to make mistakes. Unfortunately, our current, mainstream school system was designed, really, to reward the opposite; compliance, ‘right answers’, and uniformity. Evidence of this inherent contradiction is heard in conversations secondary schools are having right now about assessment. If you listen in closely, this is what you’ll hear:
‘We love creativity, creativity is vital for future success, be creative…except in most classrooms where we’d prefer that you sit quietly and get on with your work…and certainly don’t think about being creative in the part of school we really value and measure; exams and tests. Do those in silence, no collaboration – don’t talk or use any form of communication (that’s called “cheating”) and try to answer the questions the way the examiner expects.’
That said, many progressive schools are beginning to model bravery more and more by creating new, powerful forms of assessment and by rewarding students who are willing to break the mould. There are for example, Year 10 Health & PE exams being sat by students with full internet access and social entrepreneurship prizes being awarded.
But this is just a start. If we really want meaningful creativity, we must nurture, teach and expect bravery. And in order to foster bravery, we have to be willing to let go of a little more compliance and obedience.
…bravery in itself!