Creativity underpins imagination, resilience, versatility and empathy – so why do we spend so little time thinking about it?
Most jobs of the future don’t currently exist – so young people will need to be creative. Of course, content is important – but increasingly people sink or swim on their skills and how creatively or imaginatively they can apply them.
Here are a few simple ways you can introduce some creativity into your own, or the lives of those you teach.
Make time for creativity
This is probably the most important one, creativity is a skill and needs to be invested in – time is that investment. It is hard when we’re all pushed for time because it’s not always measurable; you can’t say “I’m going to find the solution to X in the next 15 minutes”. But you can say: “in the next 30 minutes I’m going to make some progress”. I find my creativity runs best for about 25-30 minutes. Set the task up and get involved – the time will fly!
Read, visit, listen, watch, absorb as much as possible – that means variety, not a Netflix binge. “Two ears, one mouth” – you should be taking in twice what you create. That’s the stuff your creativity is made of. Talk to people about this, what they’re reading, where they’ve been, what do they think about…
Create the environment
The creative environment must be right. On your own this could be a comfortable space, good lighting, music etc. In the classroom, or if you’re creating as a group, it’s more about the atmosphere, a low-pressure environment where judgement is deferred. There are no good or bad ideas at the start – just ideas – later you’ll decide which are those you’ll carry forward.
Structure creative tasks
This is true for creatives of any age – I even do this for myself. I don’t sit down to complete a task, I sit to work towards a task for a set amount of time. A whole task can be daunting for anyone – break it down. “We’re going to write a poem today, but first let’s just think of three verbs we would use to describe…”
Make it seem tangible and valuable
Developing skills may not seem tangible or valuable – it’s hard! Anything you can do to make it seem ‘real’ will help. Rather than writing a description of a place – creating a webpage advertising a recent holiday destination.
Creativity is independence. You can’t ask someone to be creative and then watch over their shoulder, give them the space, the time and the trust.
Look after yourself
You need to have your immediate needs met to be creative: sleep, eat and hydrate properly!