As we said in our previous post, schools in England are faced with yet another revision of the National Curriculum this term. We’ve seen the headlines – fractions for five year olds (many of us spoke with children about fractions decades before it was imposed), foreign languages for seven year olds and a chronological history curriculum, to name but a few.
We also summarised Sir Ken Robinson’s criticism of the British education system and its supposed “preparation for adult life” through an industrialised factory process, and how Sir Ken believes that if creativity is prevalent in all subjects we could make schools and their lessons more relevant, enjoyable and productive for our young people.
We concluded our post with this sentence.
“We would add that the rewards and benefits will also go to those who learn to become emotionally literate and socially, instinctually, intellectually, physically and spiritually intelligent, and 3D human beings.”
We’d like to add that our educational policy makers, and not just young people (for we are all learners), would also benefit from the above when it comes to planning the content of the National Curriculum – i.e. that they’d consider the development of all of these intelligences when creating a purposeful curriculum. They might also have been more mindful of the increasing scientific evidence (which probably equates to “FACT” now) in relation to neuroscience that suggests our current methods of working with young people directly contradicts the way their brain develops in adolescence.
This brings us to our own model of intelligences and our views on how this can influence the way we teach, learn and redesign our curriculum.
Sir Ken Robinson is absolutely right to say that creativity, innovation and imagination should be at the heart of good and meaningful learning. Like him, we also believe that every human being has an “element” – their raison d’etre – and that the one thing that excites them and gets them up in the morning may not be an academic subject imposed on them by a set of political policy makers that are directed by their own agenda (or one person’s agenda that is now fixed, months after he has “left the building”).
We also believe that the opportunities to personalise learning today are infinite, and that schools and their students have resources available that even a decade ago would have been beyond most peoples’ dreams.
How do we support the development of creativity?
Our 3D model of intelligences identifies six key intelligences – intellect, instinct, social, personal, physical and spiritual (or metaphysical). These all combine to make us emotionally intelligent.
Our intellect enables us to learn, to digest what we learn and to transfer that body of knowledge into action.
Our instinct enables us to react immediately to situations of either threat or promise. We instinctively flee or fight. We instinctively embrace or laugh.
Our social intelligence enables us to consider the needs of others as much as our own – to empathise, to communicate, to collaborate, to live as the social animals we were designed to be.
Our personal intelligence enables us to know who we are and what we want – it’s our core, our element, our ability to understand what makes us tick. It’s our ego.
Our physical intelligence enables us to use our bodies purposefully and effectively through our senses and our agility.
Our spiritual intelligence enables us to enjoy the world around us and also enables us to develop a clear set of positive values and their related virtues. It also enables us to use our intuition.
All of these intelligences combine and work with one another to make us who we are. All of these intelligences combine in order that we thrive and evolve, and as we do so we develop our creativity, our imagination and our innovative ideas.
If, like us (and like Sir Ken Robinson), you believe that each and every one of has an inherent ability to be creative, then see how the knowledge of our model of intelligences can guide us to be creative, noting that some intelligences are more prevalent than others in this particular example.
We need a body of knowledge and the ability to learn in order to be creative. In order to write, we need to know how to hold pen to paper, how to form sentences, how to construct dialogues etc. In order to take a photograph, we need to know at least the basics of how a camera works. We need to understand perspective. These are all part of the intellect.
Instinct is less straight forward but sometimes we need to do things without thinking. We need our non-thinking element to enable us to do things without thinking – to experiment (safely), to just go for it! Some fortunate individuals are born with an instinct to create – like the young Mozart whose intellect wasn’t developed sufficiently to “know” how to play a musical instrument at the age of 3. He just did it. How often do we enable our young children to “just do it”?
Our social intelligence enables us to be empathetic to and appreciate the works of others. We can’t all invent the wheel, but we can adapt it. Looking at the needs of others can enhance our creativity. We can consider creative ways of including others in a task – being empathetic to their needs. We can share our creativity with other like-minded folk and reach further in collaboration that we can do alone.
Being aware of our own needs and desires is important. Our personal intelligence is a key driver. Our imagination, our thoughts direct us in our learning and in our creativity. It’s knowing ourselves and our capabilities that enables and empowers us. If we know that we’re never going to be the next Picasso but we could be the next Bob Dylan, then wouldn’t it be better to concentrate our efforts on music and writing?
To touch, to taste, to hear, to see, to smell – we need these senses to be creative. Our physical intelligence and accuracy of listening allows us to listen to the creativity of others and potentially gives us the confidence to speak or sing for ourselves. Tasting great food inspires us to be creative in our own kitchens. Our creativity allows us to push ourselves physically – conjuring up new challenges for those brave enough and agile enough to do so.
Spiritual intelligence enables us to appreciate the creativity of ourselves and others. Feeling a sense of gratitude and accomplishment at creating a drawing or a piece of music is spiritually satisfying. Dancing energetically, looking at a view of a mountain and recreating it in your chosen media can give a sense of wellbeing. Valuing the creativity of others enables your own creativity to flourish.
Creativity feeds our intelligences, and in return our intelligences feed creativity in a constant cycle or circle – without a definitive end, without a start and finish.
Isn’t this what we should be doing in school – with our new curriculum or indeed any curriculum?
By referring to all of the intelligences when planning a curriculum or a subject within the curriculum, we enable creativity, yes. But we also enable our children and young people to evolve and develop all of their intelligences – to learn to become emotionally literate and socially, instinctually, intellectually, physically and spiritually intelligent, and 3D human beings.
We believe that this model of intelligences would enable our young people to receive a meaningful, pertinent curriculum that, due to its equal reference to personal and social development as much as the nurturing of the academic and intellectual, will do more than supposedly prepare them for adult life. It will also prepare them for now – for being children and enjoying the vast privileges of being a young, energetic, open-minded, uncycnical learner in a time when advancements in technology enable them to learn independently and individually.
Whilst we appreciate this latest curriculum has been imposed on us, we have the opportunity to be creative with it. We have the ability to develop it intelligently, inclusively and mindfully.
Sir Ken Robinson’s recent comments about creativity can be viewed on the following link. His definition of creativity – ” Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value”.