Work / Opinion

Do we need to radically change our perception of creativity in education?

Natasha Field, account manager at creative agency Fiasco Design, questions how best we can prepare students on creative courses for the reality of working in the industry.

Choosing a Career

I was first asked “what do you want to do when you grow up?” when I was in primary school. It seems somewhat incomprehensible that we’re asked to form a decision on want we want to do with our lives at such a young age. This question is almost always met with similar responses such as; a nurse, a teacher, a doctor or a lawyer. The advice from here is to curate our academic timetable and choose only the qualifications that are going to benefit that career choice.

What I find discouraging is that I never once heard anyone say they wanted to pursue a career within the creative industries. These include paths such as; designers, illustrators, creative directors, strategists or even account managers. It’s not because these roles didn’t exist, but more that they weren’t options – least not where I studied. It feels like education is pushing children into a box and that as a collective we’re not letting them think about ideas. Ideas need nurturing. Copernicus, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, to name a few, are great examples of people whose ideas have helped shape the world we live.

Flaws in Education

One of education’s many flaws is that it tells you that you have to know exactly what you want to do in order to do it. But this is unrealistic. As Millennials, we are a particularly indecisive generation who struggles when it comes to making career choices. Most will leave university with a degree only to then ask themselves “Now what?” So after upwards of 18 years in education, many of us still don’t have a clue. We’re always stifled that some graduates are unable to present themselves. (Side note; if you’re a designer don’t send your CV in a Word document! You’d be surprised how often this happens) This begs the question; what exactly has all that “education” achieved?

How can we change it?

Ken Robinson, international advisor on education in the arts, believes that “we are educating people out of their creative capacities. Creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status”.

I believe that we need to reconsider the value of our existing educational system as it stands. At this point, it would be wise to look towards the Montessori and Steiner approaches in particular. Montessori believes in self-directed learning; emphasising on independence, freedom and respect. Thus helping to develop creativity, problem-solving, critical thinking and time-management. Similarly, the Steiner/Waldorf approach helps to prepare students “for living”. Not only do we need to change the education system per se, but also our elitist attitudes towards it. You don’t have to have to be degree educated to follow your dreams. And similarly, success isn’t determined by how big your salary is. A great friend of mine pointed out that “as long as marking is done by ticking boxes, we’ll keep creating candidates that tick boxes and nothing else.”