Developing Creativity – ISTA @ GEMS (Singapore)

We can Google to get knowledge, but we can’t Google to get creativity.

By: Claire Rimmer, Visual Arts & Design Teacher & Edna Lau, Grade 2 Teacher

Last month, the Primary ISTA Drama Festival was hosted by GEMS (Singapore). It attracted over 90 students from 5 international schools around Singapore. The students came together to explore, connect and have fun.

The International Schools Theatre Association is a globally recognized organisation that provides professional and high quality experiences that develop creative learning and internationalism through theatre.

What did we learn? In our fast-changing world, academic qualifications and experience are no longer enough. Organisations scout for people who can do the job well, but also who can bring new perspectives as sharp thinkers. In short, they want CREATIVE people.

In a world where so many things are already prepared for us, it is imperative that we nurture creativity in our children, AND keep it going beyond the early years.

The key questions for all of us should be:

  • How do we build creativity in our youngsters?
  • How do we instill a never-ending passion for innovation and a natural curiosity?
  • How do we develop self-sufficiency for kids to entertain themselves with very little, or nothing at all?

Most schools have embraced the values of STEAM, (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and the concept of Design Thinking. This mindset has long been part of the inquiry-based learning found in many prestigious educational institutions, but it is now far more clearly identified and encouraged.

International School Open House

Without the ‘A’ for Arts, the factual side of STEM still provides the foundations for many initiatives, but it is the creative thinking, or the ‘soft skills’ of the Arts that allows for innovation, especially in problem solving. This complements the traditional ‘hard skills set’. The ability to think creatively and transfer this to all that children do now, and will do in the future is a vital part of their development.

Just like investigations in classroom learning, the emphasis of theatre and the arts should not just be on results, but the process as a whole: exploring, devising, revising, reflecting and sharing. Students need to be at the core of the creative process, which in turn gives them free license to be creative, to explore, to make mistakes and to have fun – the way kids should.

By fueling their creativity and confidence in themselves many students, given the opportunity, embrace new ideas and different ways of doing things with their body and their voices, exploring boundaries and being risk-takers. In the arts, especially theatre, they are learning dramatic techniques through play.

These techniques instill confidence and develop collaborative skills in internationally minded young individuals. These experiences empower future generations to engage with their own learning – whether it is about themselves, something or someone else.

The focus of an arts / theatre education is on creativity and flexibility, risk-taking, and developing a growth mindset. Children develop empathy through role-play, putting themselves into other people’s shoes and having to react and interact with people they have never met before in a safe and open-minded environment. There can be an emphasis on kinesthetic learning by using different spaces in different ways, exploring movement, expanding imagination and celebrating the natural urge to play.

So what can I do as a parent? Here are some ideas.  Start small and start at home.  Relinquish control.  Embrace the mess.  Let it go.  Then help your child develop responsibility by making them clean everything up.

  • Take a twist on the dinner table conversation.  What if…? What changes would you make to…?
  • Make a game out of everyday objects – bowls, spoons, shoes, water bottles, cushions, pillows, etc.
  • Don’t throw out the garbage.  What can you make out of junk?  What could you do with it?
  • Spend time cloud gazing.  What do you see?
  • Turn on the music and just dance. Or wiggle.

Creativity needs to be practiced – just like muscle memory for music, special awareness in sport and recall and connections with languages. The more we do things, the more they become second nature. Learning to view things, situations and objects from different perspectives and responding to them in different ways, triggers a natural chain reaction of further possibilities.  Whether it is developing an imaginary game, interacting with others or strategizing that next business meeting, creativity is part of what makes us human and adds to the unique outcomes that can result.

Stay tuned to our GEMS (Singapore) blog and also check ‘What’s on’ on the ISTA site to find out more.

What’s on – Future Drama Festivals for all ages

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