Creative Differences

Yesterday's Evening StandardHaving 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.

5 thoughts on “Creative Differences

  1. Agree on ‘creative’ being a poor name for expressive arts. But I’m a bit sceptical about the notion that the arts have to be in school and if they’re not there then no-one will ever be arty again. In a lot of cases the way they’re taught in school actively puts people off. Does anyone share my sneaking suspicion that if schools actively banned and prohibited and censured the arts, we’d see a lot _more_ artistic activity among children?

    • Nice idea. DONT look at this picture. DONT listen to this music. Forbidden Fruit. It just might work. And I do take your point that including creative subjects at school is far from a guarantee the learning will stick later in life. Certainly the way I was taught Art at schools was a real turn off. That said, I dont think that’s an adequate arguments for sidelining creativity. Just make sure creative subjects are taught creatively. In fact, ALL subjects.

  2. Here here David! Glad you crawled out of bed for that one. I’m often asked when I’m doing some more unusual creative or improv workshops for corporate folk “This is great but how does it translate to the REAL WORLD?” as if the last 5 hours with me had simply been a pleasant dream.

    I am yet to find out where this ‘real world’ resides. I fear I may have to take ‘the blue pill’ to enter it.*

    *A reference to The Matrix, not viagra!

  3. I loved this David.This kind of attitude and judgement is also very much entrenched in India too, though some small positive change is being made by the younger generation who discard such notion. My mother(Bless her) very much unschooled but if she did have the chance to do so,I am sure she would have been running a Fortune 500 company. She used to tell me that not all things you learn in life must have an economic meaning but it will have massive social significance and that is what will sustain you and your life.To which, I add that not everything that is of social significance and action need to be of economic value but every economic action will have a social implication.It is a message I often used to take advocating to the World Bank..

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