School: a creative utopia

Imagine a world in which equality is universal. Not just between men and women, but between creatives and academics.

School: a creative utopia

Imagine if when asked to choose your GCSE subjects, you weren't just told you had to do Science, English and Maths, but that you could do any number of creative or academic subjects you wished.

Imagine if instead of writing an essay for your history homework, you drew a comic strip.

Imagine how different school education would be if every class was taught in a creative manner, regardless of the subject.

Now, picture this: You walk into school on your first day of Year 7. You're small, scared and all the older kids are watching you as you walk through the gates. You walk into your classroom to find your teacher and a few pupils already in there. You notice that all the desks are pushed to the edges of the room. After you've put your bag down and the rest of your class have entered the room, you are told to sit down in a circle on the floor.

The teacher starts the day by throwing a ball around the room and whenever you catch it, you have to name any film or play that could be classified as a musical. It gets your brain working and you start to learn a bit about the people around you based on their answers. You find yourself laughing and joking around as you start to bond with your classmates, despite the fact that no one knows anyone else's name yet.

Next, you're taken by your teacher out onto the sports pitches, where you are presented with a parachute. You can play whatever games you like but in order for them to work, everybody has to work together. Afterwards, you go back to your classroom and are told you each need to draw a self-portrait and write your name clearly underneath. You and one other classmate are then chosen to try and match the self-portrait to the person, and you quickly get to learn everyone's names.

Now imagine your least favourite lessons, taught through the mediums of acting, drawing, song, dance and video. Sounding slightly more interesting? Would this have made you pay more attention? Would you have chosen the same subjects for GCSE and A Level if every lesson was taught in a mixture of styles, both academic and creative? Would you have picked the same career path if you had had a creative education?

Now, flash forward to Year 12. You're getting a talk on career choices from your head teacher. They give you an equal balance of academic and creative options. The creative options branch out from the standard acting and fine art ones and give you a real insight into the opportunities you have. You know you want to do something creative and you've always loved photography. You sit down with your careers advisor and they are helpful and supportive. They know what they are talking about when it comes to your career choice, as much as they do when discussing medical school with other pupils, and they give you plenty of options to mull over.

Writing this has made me think back to my first day of Year 7 and the reasons I picked the subjects I did at GCSE and A Level. I now wish my first day had been something like the one imagined above. How much more fun does that sound than paperwork? A lot. For me, creativity makes everything more fun, and a world where academic and creative careers are viewed with the same esteem is a dream world.

Image courtesy Elizabeth Albert, via Twitter


Jo Nead

Jo Nead Contributor

I am a Hertfordshire based RADA graduate working in Stage Management. I like to knit, cook and travel and I can always be found in or talking about a theatre!

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  • Elspeth Barron

    On 8 September 2015, 15:28 Elspeth Barron commented:

    Really lovely piece Jo and thought provoking. I certainly wish my school days had been a bit closer to the one you describe here. Certainly more fun than paperwork!
    I am in total agreeance with you but let me play Devils Advocate for a moment. What if you are more academically minded in your studies, do you think this approach would throw you off? Perhaps instead of a heavily academic or a heavily creative curriculum we need to look at a more balanced approach to teaching that suits all?
    Don't get me wrong I am all up for a completely creative approach and I certainly don't have the answer but wanted to pose the question.
    Amazing Job though!

  • Jo Nead

    On 11 October 2015, 14:37 Jo Nead Contributor commented:

    Thanks Elspeth (sorry I'm rubbish I've only just seen this!!). Don't get me wrong, I had a very academic education and I loved my school, but in my opinion, a little bit of creativity never hurt anyone! I think even those who may be more academically inclined would benefit from some creative learning, even if it was just in the sense that the arts subjects weren't seen as 'soft' subjects and so it was compulsory to do one, just as it is science and maths. Of course, not everyone is going to enjoy it, but everyone has to do science and maths regardless of wether they love it or hate it. Sometimes being made to do something you hate can teach you skills you never thought you would have. I think a balanced approach would be lovely, but I don't think it would be very easy to obtain an actual balance until the extremes are recognised and dealt with.

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