Why dancing to the tunes of literacy and numeracy just doesn’t cut it anymore.

So Welby Ings  is a Professor of Design at Auckland University of Technology and into issues around creativity and learning. While at school, he learned from a very young age that he was dumb and his horizons in the world reached as far as the tip of his nose! Not a great advert for school.

The standardized way of learning has a dehumanising impact on the individual whether this is recognised or not. Being able to dance to the tunes of Literacy and Numeracy are no longer enough. It is our very nature as human beings to be creative in our thinking and our approach. Why does there only have to be one answer to a problem? Why not several answers?

Sir Ken Robinson, chair of the UK Government’s report on creativity, education and the economy, described research that showed that young people lost their ability to think in “divergent or non-linear ways”. This is a key component of creativity. Of 1,600 children aged three to five who were tested, 98% showed they could think in divergent ways. By the time they were aged eight to 10, 32% could think divergently. When the same test was applied to 13 to 15-year-olds, only 10% could think in this way. And when the test was used with 200,000 25-year-olds, only 2% could think divergently. Education is driven by the idea of one answer and this idea of divergent thinking becomes stifled.’ He described creativity as the ‘genetic code’ of education and said it was essential for the new economic circumstances of the 21st century.”  (TESS, 25 March 2005)

I can see this inflexibility in thinking when looking at Miss 14, and Master’s 10 and 6. The six year old is way more creative in his approach to things than his siblings. It’s as if the system has begun beating the creativity out of them..

The challenge for me as a parent is how can I support my children to strengthen what divergent thinking cells they have left. Being able to think divergently has become an increasingly critical element required in the future that lies ahead as it has become less about creating things in the factory model and more about ideas, processes and media literacies. Our children will also be competing for roles with young people from the rising middle classes in Asia. The 21st Century has been dubbed as the Asian century because of the economic powerhouse that Asia has become.

Certainly a very different world to the one where we have grown up in. You may be reading this and thinking in that ingenius kiwi way, ‘she’ll be alright’.

Are you prepared to leave it to chance?


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