The main focus of my dissertation has evolved over the last few months, particularly due to the experience i had teaching the group of 5 – 11 year olds over the summer. I became very interested in what limits and what stimulates children’s imaginations. I noticed that some of the children in the group seemed to be totally restricted by their fear of making a mistake.I overcame that by showing them a Powerpoint on the different types of art, realistic and non realistic,and explained to them that the aim in art is just to be creative.It was very interesting as usually children are not afraid to make a mistake, it is only when we get older that we learn the ‘rules’ and become frightened of breaking them.

 

Sir Ken Robinson talks about the issue of creativity in a couple of TED talks .I loved watching these as it was a sheer delight to find someone speaking the thoughts that are in my head! For a long time i have been aware (through my Life Coaching work) that we restrict ourselves so much in life because we have this fear of failure. Robinson says ‘if you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original’ and here he is referring to children being creative, but i would actually apply that to the whole of life itself. How will we ever know what we are capable of becoming if we never try?’we are educating people out of their creativity’

 

 

The education system today has a lot to answer for, with the focus being constantly on the academic subjects, with very little attention or resources given to the arts – as if they are not as important in a child’s upbringing. Robinson says ‘creativity is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status’ and he is right, where do they think the designers and problem solvers of tomorrow will come from? as well as the writers, illustrators and artists? The governments of today are so short sighted.In the USA they are saying that they are having a ‘creativity crisis’ where children are scoring higher and higher in SATS tests, but lower and lower in the CQ tests (creative quotient). They are trying to remedy this by creating problem solving solutions, and also looking at the effect that digital media has on the imagination potential of a child.

If a child reads a page of a book and it has one picture with it, the picture enables them to visualise the character, but they then have to ‘imagine’ the rest of the story, the movements, the expressions, the voices, and any other abstract thoughts that they may have. In digital stories the child doesn’t have to do any of this as the sound and moving image provides all of the above – leaving nothing for the child’s imagination to work on. As Pie Corbett said (educational advisor to the government) a digital story ‘doesn’t know if you are not listening anymore’ and of course continues with the story. There isn’t a pause for questions, no opportunities to expand on the story, all the information is laid out in front of the child.

I can, however also see the benefits of digital media, in the fact that children with learning difficulties find the digital image easier to work with and it also holds their attention for longer periods of time etc. I think that it is not a black and white situation where we need to be one or the other, more that we need to monitor the effect of excess use of digital media, particularly when it is taking children away from the traditional stories, that stimulate their imagination more. I also think that we need to build into the curriculum some personal development work on ;failure is feedback’ and to allow children to not be frightened of failing, as if they are they will also be frightened of trying –  and that will in the end have a devastating effect on out society in years to come!

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