When we talk about creative education – which can be defined as “using imagination and critical thinking to create new and meaningful forms of ideas where they can take risks, be independent and flexible”. Instead of being taught to reiterate what had been learned, students learn to develop their ability to find various solutions to a problem – It does not mean that we have got to wait 10, 20 or 30 years for it to possibly happen (for that is how unchanging education is when there is a lack of vision and follow-through action by the Ministry).
But when parents themselves were to reclaim their children’s education, that can be instantaneous! Because it doesn’t need to go through the layers upon layers of bureaucratic maze to decide whether to teach your child math and science in English, and then change that decision again, and again – depending on each new minister on the job. It just needs to be understood clearly without all the prejudices and misconceptions. All one needs to do is some quick research on the Internet and hundreds of info will surface for the taking. The late Sir Ken Robinson has been talking about it throughout his career and it is fast becoming a thing for creative artists to adopt for their children – they are choosing creative learning over conventional schooling for good reasons, namely the freedom to customise creative learning for the family’ needs and lifestyles. It is not a fad. Because it allows for the unfettered growth of creativity to happen freely and naturally, and taking that creativity to generate new ideas for the various creative and educative industries, and to solve pressing future problems. For those who do not know what I’m talking about, here’s a quick scan of it.
1. Unschooling is an informal learning that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Why informal? Because learning is a life-long endeavour that begins from the mothers’ womb, and continues unabated throughout life. It encompasses our daily living routines that form habits that either enhance our learning process or inhibit it. Much of learning occurs before the child even steps into a formal classroom: from observing adults interact and communicate with one another, by asking the “Why” questions, by throwing an egg into the air and seeing what might happen next……the minds of children aren’t blank canvases to be filled with data. They are already colourful canvases oto be displayed to all and sundry to be seen, to be understood, to be acknowledged.
2. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Their days are not packed to the brim with organised activities or formal classes. Instead of those, they have lots of space and room for creative contemplation and play.
3. Creative play – There has been a great deal of research on the importance of play for the neurological development of the brain, as well as the emotional development for healthy socialisation. But this is mainly brushed off by results-driven principals and parents of children. The “I-didn’t-pay-you-expensive-school-fees-just-to-let-my-child-play” is an oft-repeated complain that teachers get from parents.
4. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.
With the current pandemic disrupting schooling throughout the world, it is imperative that we adopt creativity in schools and adapt schooling for creative learning. Because the world will never be the same post-pandemic and this uncertainty has already impacted the way businesses are run, managed and led.
“We don’t teach uncertainty in schools. It should be the absolute bedrock of what we teach children – how we come to know and how we describe reality. In fact, we teach the exact opposite”. (Adam Rutherford, science writer). Learning is broad, interconnected and dynamic. Learning is sometimes thought of in the strictly cognitive or academic sense, yet research in child development has shown us that learning is much broader and interconnected.
In THE UNSCHOOLED MIND: HOW CHILDREN THINK AND HOW SCHOOLS SHOULD TEACH, Howard Gardner, an expert on intelligence and creativity, offers an in-depth discussion of different ways of understanding the world. Young children develop intuitive ways of understanding, but schools teach subject matter in rote, ritualized manner. As a result, students fail to use new material when presented with problems outside a scholastic context. Instead, they fall back on their intuitive understandings. Only when students become disciplinary experts do they use new knowledge in other than school settings. Gardner believes that schools could teach students to be disciplinary experts but that they fail to do so.
“Schools should teach concepts in ways that show applicability to the real world and in ways that challenge students’ intuitive understandings of the world and show where they are deficient. The creativity and resourcefulness of young children should be preserved while their false understandings are corrected. Gardner discusses modified apprenticeships, meaningful projects, and process portfolios as means of achieving this goal.” https://www.enotes.com/topics/unschooled-mind
So, ultimately, to change education is to change our mindset towards learning, and that is, to adopt the unschooled mind that fosters the creative mind that has the power to solve the education woes for your family. Not the other way around.
Here are the research papers on play:
Invaluable Resources from the National Association for the Education of Young Children https://www.naeyc.org/resources/topics/play
Book Summary of Howard Gardner’s The Unschooled Mind
Do Schools Kill Creativity by Sir Ken Robinson https://youtu.be/iG9CE55wbtY