Having crawled sneezing out of bed for the first time in a week, I picked up the Evening Standard, to read Stephen Twigg, the UK’s shadow Education Secretary attacking the Government for sidelining creative subjects in the new school eBacc curriculum and so threatening to stifle the economy. Go Stephen! I cheer you, though I daresay the roles would have been reversed if your party were in power.
It’s a new year. But it’s an old problem. And it has to do with this word ‘creative’. When we narrowly define subjects like music, art, dance as a ‘creative’ we infer that the other ones like English, Maths and History are somehow uncreative. Shakespeare, Milton, Eliot, Newton, Einstein, Taylor and Toynbee all uncreative? They’ll be thrilled to hear it. Also, if you listened to our politicians and educationalists you’d think that Science lived at one end of a spectrum and the Arts at the opposite. That’s an insult to both and denies the core of creativity that binds them together.
But there’s a more important – and entirely misleading – distinction these folk are trying to sell us. They would have us separate the Real World – a domain where hard-nosed grown-ups engage in proper pursuits to serious ends – from the Unreal world where hairy, lavender-scented ‘creative folk’ emote, lark-about and generally fantasise.
As it turns out, the Real World is really the fantasy. Value is subjective. Money is made up. It’s just an idea. If the trillion-guzzling crises of the last few years have proved nothing else, they have proved that. There isn’t a choice between creativity and prosperity. Wealth is creativity.
So next time they tell you “we don’t have the money for creativity” remember that without creativity there will be no money to spend.