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Creative Education: Where are we Today and How do we Move Forward?

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Chapter 1: Creativity - What Does it Mean and How is it Approached Today


Chapter 2: The Creative Learning Spiral - How it Works and the need for


……………Transition Chapter 3: Chapter 3: Play - A Life Time Pursuit






List of Figures



Introduction As a student of BA Womenswear at Central Saint Martins with a particular interest in education it is important for me to investigate the subject of creativity within the way we educate. Experiencing the creative Learning methods of Central Saint Martins and seeing the comparisons to Pre-formal education, I would like to look into where we see children’s educational journey begin. The learning frameworks in this area of education are separated from those after Foundation level 2 or Kindergarten, and I would like to consider why we do not extend these throughout further stages of teaching and learning in formal education as they can be beneficial later in life. I have always found the similarities between early years’ learning and learning in an arts university fascinating due to a family history in education, with a particular focus in preformal education. As well as my own experiences assisting with an early years foundation and with various short courses at Central Saint Martins. Perhaps the most obvious similarity is that the end of early years education and the beginning of a degree at the arts university are called a “Foundation”, defined as ‘the underlying principle or idea on which something is based. (Hawkins,1983.p255). We must then consider how these foundations of education are structured and how they prepare students for what is ahead of them. Why do we need a foundation course for the arts university and should it be extended throughout education models that question the current system? Ken Robinsons work on creativity shall provide a framework of reference throughout this essay as I believe he is one of the most relevant theorists working on creative education today. I will support his thinking with that of other academic theorists such as Vygotsky, Resnick, Froebel and Kolb among others and educational models like the Steiner Kindergarten, Central Saint Martins BA Fashion and the Bauhaus Preliminary course to further support my argument. Although many creative learning theories and models were developed during the 20th Century, I have aimed to use the work of those whose writings are most relatable to the contemporary educational climate. With this in mind, while they may not always be the original person to whom a theory is credited, they have expanded upon them in a way which can be considered relevant today. I have aimed to mix 3

academic writing, education models in use today and the experience from relevant educators to present, although brief, a rounded summary of where we stand with creativity in education and ideas on how to move forward constructively. The essay through three chapters will firstly seek to explore a deeper understanding of creativity, present how it is viewed today and establish its place within future learning. I will endeavour to use Resnick’s creative learning spiral as a means to understand a system in which creativity can be fostered through education, question the issues around implementing creative education, ways to solve these issues and how it can flourish in a practical learning environment. This dissertation will then move on to present a case that play is intrinsically linked to creativity, explain how it can be used throughout one’s life and how it can help us all adapt to changing environments.


Chapter 1: Creativity - What Does it Mean and How is it Approached Today In this Dissertation Ken Robinsons definition of creativity will be used as a benchmark throughout: ‘Imaginative activity fashioned so as to produce outcomes that are both original and of value' (1999 p.30). It is important to acknowledge that the skilful artist and the creative are not the same. The lack of differentiation between them could be seen as one of the ways creativity has been lost from certain areas of education through it’s increasing association with the arts. Although a key function of artistic practice, ‘creativity is not unique to the arts. It is equally fundamental to advances in the sciences, in mathematics, technology, in politics, business and in all areas of everyday life’ (Robinson,1999.p28). It could be argued that the artist that replicates the image of a face perfectly in a portrait is not being ‘creative but recreative’ (Smith,1997.p26). Undoubtedly, those who can in this example recreate a photographic portrait of a subject perfectly, do not lack skill, however, it is important to recognise the act of creating and the act of being a skilful artist as separate areas of accomplishment. It could be argued that those who, when asked to create a portrait, use their knowledge of what a portrait is and could be to inform their creative process to create a new kind of portrait and that it is here when we see real creativity. ‘The creative person need not - perhaps should not - be a “know all”. But they cannot be a “know nothing”, either. Creativity is engendered by knowledge, in being constrained by it’ (Boden,1997. p4). It is not to say however that in processing ones creativity one does not require skill to accomplish their creative ideas. Some level of skill is needed regardless of the outcome of the creativity, be it a portrait or a chemical compound experiment. But it should be noted that when we consider creativity in education, it is about differentiating between the process of creative ideas and the skill required to execute them. A skill can often be taught but may be limited to one specific field, however original creative thinking is a process that is learnt and that students may apply across ‘all areas of everyday life’ (Robinson,1999). Unfortunately most “formal education” does not foster an environment suitable to think and learn creatively. This is supported by Resnick who states that ‘schools focus on delivering 5

instruction and information rather than supporting students in the creative learning process’ (2017. p13). Similarly to teaching a skill rather than creative thinking, ‘delivering instruction’ rather than nurturing ‘imaginative activity’ (Robinson, 1999. p28) is like lecturing to our students and expecting them to memorise. Memorising and learning are different skills. Teaching is only possible when students are learning. It could be argued that those “teachers” that expect students only to listen and memorise are not teaching but rather preaching, and ‘the creative learning process’ cannot be experienced through preaching. Ken Robinson’s profound Ted Talk “Do Schools Kill Creativity” (2006), which has been viewed over 49 million times speaks clearly of the turmoil education faces. Robinson explains how our education system ‘came into being to meet the needs of industrialism’ (2006). A system that placed ‘the most useful subjects for work at the top’ (Robinson, 2006). Education as it stands presents, ‘the continual conflict between mature thinking, which underpins school teaching, and the thinking of children needs to be illuminated to enable teaching methods to learn valuable lessons from it.’(Vygotsky, 1994.p364). Vygotsky flips the traditional view of education still further and proposes that is in fact the thinking of children that the system should consider with more weight arguably as the Kindergarten system does. Perhaps even Robinson’s choice to voice his opinions via the format of video is telling of an educational revolution. It is no longer the case that one must read or write an essay - like this one, to obtain knowledge. Robinson is embracing the technological shift and the ‘thinking of children’, much like he encourages the education system to do, The attention garnered from this online video formatting stands in contention with and arguably blows away the reach of traditional academia, thus reiterating the importance of the educational shift. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, in sound, kinaesthetically, in abstract terms and in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. Intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn't divided into compartments. In fact, creativity comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.(Robinson, 2006) 
 He clearly explains the need for multi sensory interactive and changeable systems for education. Just as he states that the ‘brain isn’t divided into compartments’, It then seems foolish that we educate by splitting subjects into them both literally, in separate 6

classrooms, and intellectually, through separate lessons for separate subjects, and systematically ‘educate children out of creativity’ (Robinson 2006) as a result. This separation doesn’t exist in the Kindergarten, yet we gradually begin to 'educate from the waist up’(Robinson,2006) in formal education. When students graduate they have mostly been taught exclusively one topic for three years, and we regard this as the pinnacle of our education intelligence. When in practice as Robinson states, intelligence manifests in the ‘interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things’ (Robinson,2006). Vygotsky explains perhaps more specifically how ‘academic concepts are not assimilated and learned by the child and are not taken up by memory, but arise and are formed with the help of the most extreme tension in the activity of his own thinking (1994. p365). Interestingly, it is not the artistic Vygotsky claims to be in need of the students own thinking, but the academic. That which in most ‘formal education is taught by sitting at desks, and listening to lectures’ (Resnick, 2017.p13). Where we so often see complete abandonment of creative thinking is perhaps where we need it most. Indeed, in an ever changing global landscape, no longer enough to be the A grade student, Resnick calls for the ‘x student’ (2017.p2). These learners will be those who, using creative thinking, are not just able to pass exams, but are able to think for themselves creating innovation and to ‘produce outcomes that are both original and of value' (Robinson 1999). It seems only natural to want this for our education system; it will produce the today of tomorrow and safeguard future generations who will be able to work with and thrive in the accelerated shifts and changes of new industries and technologies. Frey and Osborne predict that ’47 percent of total US employment is in the high risk category of being replaced by technological advancements over the next two decades’ (2013.p44). Resnick goes further than Robinson and perhaps most other academic works on educational creativity in relation to technology in explaining how to deal with technological advancements creatively and in fact actively promotes them. This is a main characteristic that sets him apart from most methods of early years learning - such as the Steiner Kindergarten, which states, ‘The use of computers/watching television for young children is incompatible with the Steiner approach’ (Steiner Waldorf Education, 2014.p9). It is common to be cautious of technology within early years teaching. Resnick, although a supporter, is ‘worried about the ways that many technologies are entering children lives …


most children’s apps and high-tech toys aren’t designed to support or encourage creative thinking’ (Resnick,2017.p5). Resnick himself is lead of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab and would seem to be both knowledgeable yet cautious around technology regarding young children. This is due to his belief that ‘new technologies, if properly designed and supported, can expand opportunities for all children from all backgrounds to experiment, explore and express themselves - and, in the process, develop as creative thinkers.’ (Resnick,2017.p5-6). Most writers on the subject of young children and creative education shy away from dealing with this unknown and relatively new area of education, however Resnick, who himself has a ferocious interest in the pedagogy of the Kindergarten (discussed in chapter two), is leading the way in providing platforms and the technological framework to creatively engage young children in technology. The most exciting part of his work is that it engages learners from ‘all backgrounds’ (Resnick,2017.p5) which the fee-paying and geographically limited kindergarten models like Steiner are unable to do. There is however a common denominator throughout all creative learning, be that of the kindergarten or the university, in that all require tools. Resnick points out that his students are using technology like ‘micro controllers and laser cutters more than finger paints’ (2017,p13) but the function of the “tool” in creative learning is vital. Although one must be cautious with the idea of “creative tools” as they can very often be confused, as is with the notion of creativity, as being artistic. As a matter of fact ‘the tools used by man not only radically change his conditions of existence, they even react on him in that they effect a change on him and in his physic condition’(Luria,1994.p46). It is therefor vital that educators provide the right tools and ‘collaborate with the child’s nature by structuring appropriate activities and experiences within the pre prepared learning environment’ (Gutek,2014.p182), as is the practice within the Montessori school. Yet to take this further it is not only relevant to children, but all education regardless of age. Robinson talks of the unpredictability of the future of those currently being educated. It is now widely thought that ‘learning is no longer for kids but a central lifelong task essential for personal development and career success’ (Kolb,2014.p3). In an ever-changing working environment and capitalist culture, the need for creativity has now become ‘economic’ (Robinson,2006). No longer is it a select number of educational theorists that 8

are singing the creative song, but the world of commerce is starting to pay attention too. ‘For individuals and organisations alike, learning to adapt to the new ‘rules of the game’ is becoming as critical as preforming well under the old rules’ (Kolb,2014.p2) and as we transition from the old ‘industrialised’ (Robinson,2006) education model to ‘the future learning society’ (Kolb,2014.p2), surely economically it is this intermediate time, before it takes over completely that would see the biggest return on investment in creative education before it becomes the norm. That is, if capital gain is what we are to judge our overall success by within this cultural context.


Chapter 2: The Creative Learning Spiral - How it Works and the need for Transition Exploring creativity is by its very nature an unknown; it is ‘the newly transformed conceptual space, (…) not easily navigable, because it is too different from the previous, familiar, one (Boden,1997.p3). Creativity is a process that is not passive but engaging and challenges those wishing to achieve ideas in line with Robinson’s definition of the subject to think inside, outside and around the so-called box. As Robinson says, ‘creative abilities are developed through practical application: by being engaged in the process of creative thought production’ (Robinson, 1999. p34). This is put into practice by the ‘creative learning spiral’ as seen in Figure.1.

 Figure 1: ‘The Creative learning Spiral is the engine of creative thinking’ (Resnick 2017.p12). Mitchell Resnick has looked at Kindergarten education throughout his thirty year career as the leader of the the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media lab and Professor of Learning Research at LEGO, introducing this thinking to creatively approach ‘new technologies’ (Resnick,2017.p13) at university level. Resnick references Froebel’s initial thinking on Kindergarten (garden for children) invented by him in 1837 and applied this to create the Spiral in a way which is relevant for today in practice, although in theory the thinking remains the same. Proposing that the pedagogy of the Kindergarten would be the


most beneficial way of learning in the contemporary educational environment. Believing this Spiral learning from pre-formal education to be the most effective way to learn regardless of age. The process allows students to constantly imagine, create, play, share, reflect, imagine and repeat in a cycle to evolve and grow creative thinking. One can see reference in this learning model from Lewin’s Laboratory method and David Kolb’s thinking on experiential learning, however, I will investigate Resnick’s model, as I believe it bares a more practical and comprehendible application within education today and its relationship to the idea of ‘play’. It is promising and unexpected to see a University really taking hold of the pedagogy of early education and applying it in practice to achieve results that are innovative by allowing students to find ‘joy, fulfilment, purpose and meaning’ (Resnick,2017.p6) in their work. It is here that Ken Robinson’s definition of creativity can be achieved. Through the mix of the practical, theoretical and reflective actions students are able to look at their own practice and develop forward to achieve outcomes that are both ‘original and of value’ (robinson, 1999). In Friedrich Froebel’s book ‘The Education of Man’, originally written in German in 1826 he explains his thinking on education through a metaphor: The grapevine must, indeed, be trimmed; but this trimming as such does not insure wine. On the other hand, the trimming, although done with the best intention, may wholly destroy the vine, or at least impair its fertility and productiveness if the gardener fails in his work passively and attentively to follow the nature of the plant. In the treatment of the things of nature we very often take the right road, whereas in the treatment of man we go astray. (1898. p9) Froebel here uses the gardener and the grape vine to explain his thinking on education. He clearly speaks of an educator (gardener) that follows the natural path of the student (grape), following their own ‘nature’ and indeed alluding to ‘trimming’ being the process of forcing a child to adhere to a system rather than encouraging their natural abilities as one does with ‘the treatment of the things of nature’. He shines a light onto the education system that sadly 181 years later remains similar in its approach. Resnick is keen to focus on Froebel’s emphasis and ultimate goal being ‘understanding through “re-creation”.’ (Resnick, 2017. p8) believing that by re-creating the ‘world around 11

them’ (Resnick, 2017.p8), they will gain a better understanding of it, in contrast to the previously mentioned Smith where I compared the photorealistic portrait to their thinking on being not ‘creative but re-creative’ (1997.p26). Perhaps considering Froebel’s emphasis on ‘re-creation’ to understand ones surroundings and Resnick’s emphasis on this theory at university level, it is in fact crucial to re-create and understand before one can make work of true creativity. It is worth mentioning that Smith’s point on re-creation not being creative still stands when we take Robinson’s definition of the word. However “Re-creation’’ does seem to be a fundamental part of the process of achieving true Creativity: to understand one’s cultural context through re-creation before seeking to challenge it. Considering re-creation in the ‘Creative learning Spiral’ (Resnick, 2017), it could be said that one re-creates as they seek to understand their context, surroundings or subject going through the cycle for the first time. Thereafter, as one goes through the cycle again and again, they move slowly away from re-creative towards the creative. Perhaps one does not always reach the ‘newly transformed conceptual space’ described by Boden (1997). Possibly creativity should be viewed as a scale that one travels along through completing the steps of the spiral. This appears relatable in my own context of Fashion Design: often referencing a vintage item of clothing suitable to the current theme or context, I start by attempting to re-create that piece. While this happens I believe I go through the ‘creative learning spiral’ (Resnick,2017) indeed re-creating my own re-creation through playing, sharing and reflecting in a cycle until I feel it is finished being “created” within that current context. Viewing creativity as a scale traveling from the re-creative to the creative, it may not always be contextually relevant to travel from one end to the other. The receiver of the idea may ‘loath to abandon (certain empirical or stylistic) criteria that the novel idea is rejected immediately’. (Boden, 1997.p3). Therefore, in a practical sense we have to be aware of our context in order to express our creativity. The presentation of a conceptual piece of fashion to an educator with no knowledge of fashion design most probably wouldn’t be understood. It is then imperative that the creative education systems are able to be knowledgeable enough to allow true expression of creativity within their institutions.


‘Expert knowledge is needed. For even transformational creativity is not the abandonment of all constraints’ (Boden, 1997.p3). It becomes apparent that educators must be aware of the historic and contextual value of their field to offer a space where real transformation and ‘historic individuality’ can take place. In relation to Robinson’s creativity definition being “original” can take three forms: ▪ ▪ ▪

Individual: A person’s work May be original in relation to their own previous work and output. Relative: It may be original in relation to their peer group: to other young people of the same age, for example. Historic: The work may be original in terms of anyone’s previous output in a particular field: that is, it may be uniquely original. (Robinson,1999.p32)

When considering these levels of originality in reference to creativity in education, one would expect they, too could work in a similar cycle to Resnick’s Creative Learning Spiral. Working through levels of originality within one’s self, one’s peers and one’s field. Although not impossible, we may expect ‘historic originality’ to manifest within later stages or even post-education and expect ‘relative originality’ more often in pre-formal education. However, they are all equally important. Robinson notes that ‘historic originality is more likely to emerge from a system of education which ‘encourages the creative capacities of everyone’ (1999.p32), relating back to the idea of originality in these three definitions working in a spiral system. It can be argued that the more creative encouragement taking place within education will increase the numbers of ‘individual’ and ‘relative’ accounts of originality and therefore spiral onto create the ‘historic’, which is surely where we will see the most impact regarding innovation. Perhaps the most obvious and long standing universities that one expects to foster creative learning are the original Bauhaus and Central Saint Martins, as a student of the latter myself and as already explained I relate to the Spiral within my own practice. However, it seems interesting to reflect on the institutions regarding the ‘Creative Learning Spiral’ (Resnick,2017) and its practical application to students who are a ‘product’ of the ‘industrialised’ education system which sadly is the same for those starting at Central Saint Martins today as it was for those starting Itten’s ‘original preliminary course at the Bauhaus’ (Bergdoll & Dickerman,2009.p17) ‘in the autumn of 1920’ (Forgács,1995.p53) This Preliminary course is best compared to the modern art and design foundation course.


Itten had ‘trained as a primary school teacher’ before implementing the preliminary course with a ‘goal of unlearning, to bring the young artist back to a state of innocence beyond the corruption of culture - to a childlike self - from which learning could begin anew’ (Bergdoll & Dickerman,2009.p17). It acknowledges that the educational system in place before was unsuitable and should be forgotten to allow the student to ‘continue their training most successfully’ (Forgács,1995.p53). Just as Resnick relates his teaching methods to that of a Kindergarten, Itten’s aim was to return students to a ‘childlike self’, which might be better described today as pre-industrialised education.

Figure 2: Bauhaus Wheel Diagram (Borteh,2017) The English version of the “Bauhaus Wheel Diagram” seen in Fig.2 was used as a way to visually explain a student’s trajectory at the institution, starting with Itten’s preliminary course at the outer and working towards the ‘specialised’ (Borteh,2017) centre. It is interesting to consider the ‘Creative Learning Spiral’ (Resnick ,2017) within a wider spiral of specialisation. To consider that as you repeat Resnick’s spiral over and over again you move slowly over the course of your education - or even career via a larger spiral towards a point of specialisation which, although it requires significantly more time, could be repeated several times over the course of a lifetime. Similarly to Itten, Head of BA Fashion at Central Saint Martins Sarah Gresty encourages students to ‘relearn and break down those rigid rules that were enforced within their previous education’ (Gresty,2017). This brings to light the necessity for the foundation 14

course within places like Central Saint Martins, but raises wider awareness for the need for transitional learning, which arguably could still follow the ‘creative learning Spiral’ (Resnick, 2017.p11) until the educational ‘revolution’ (Robinson,2006) is complete. Perhaps it will lie in our ability to offer a means of transition that will determine the success of creative education. Jeremy Till (2017) Head of Central Saint Martins is well aware of the difficulties in the intermediate stages between education models. ‘Suddenly you’re saying: ‘actually don’t listen to me. I want to hear what you’re saying.’ And as expected this antithesis of education styles will be shocking and a sudden need to think for yourself is ‘uncomfortable” (Till 2017). ‘The lack of structure and deviation from the traditional classroom learning structure they were accustomed to was too confusing’ (Kolb,2014). One could even see the irony in a system that is not effective but also stops the majority of its inhabitants to think in any other way which surely shines a wider light onto society as a whole. University of the Arts, the umbrella Central Saint Martins sits within tackles the transition of education through the “UAL Accrediting Body” which works with ’40,000 students to accredit art and design within 6th form and Foundation in the UK, to determine the learning outcomes of their curriculum’ (Till,2017). This approach reassuringly offers a way to work with the ‘industrialist’ education system to satisfy its needs but also enable the bridging into more creative modes of learning that may ease the difficulties of transitioning into a new educational model. Co-Lead of BA Fashion Design Womenswear within Central Saint Martins, Heather Sproat, explains how the institution uses formative assessment ‘which is specifically intended to generate feedback on performance to improve and accelerate learning’ (Sadler, 1998) as a practical means of nurturing students creativity. We could see this assessment as the ‘reflection’ element of the ‘Creative Learning Spiral’ within a practical educational context, although not dismissing the need for self, peer and contextual reflection. The need for a change in evaluation from educators in ‘industrialised education’ is an essential part of an educational shift, providing proactive assessment in cycles ‘throughout the process of creativity and not only at the end. Critical evaluation 15

involves a shift in the focus of attention and mode of thinking as we attend to what is working or not working (Robinson,1999.P33). This dissertation questions the integrity and effectiveness of a system, which is designed to educate and yet assesses once, at the end of a programme of study. Leaving no room to fix that which might have been misunderstood and further reinforces a culture of A grade students lacking training on how to think for themselves. Sproat Believes, much like Itten’s thinking on bringing ‘the young artist back to a state of innocence’ (Bergdoll & Dickerman,2009.p17) ‘that the individual should be encouraged to switch off their internal censor as to whether or not they can express their figurative drawing well. Thus allowing them to engage their creative flow and provide an environment where they can work without feeling self conscious about their draftsmanship. It is possible to bring the students forward to the point where they reach a new level of understanding about their work and pass through the threshold concept. Once it has been learned it is impossible for it to be unlearned, and the confidence and strength of their line is changed (Sproat,2012). The ‘threshold Concept’, popularly known throughout educators as the time when an idea is truly grasped by the student, in this case could be the leap from the ‘industrialised’ education of the past to the creative learning of their present, although contextualised here through strength of line. It may be that until a “lifelong Kindergarten” (Resnik,2017) is truly achieved, the creative educators that work with students post-industrialised education must bring their students through the threshold concept before they can truly flow through the Creative Learning Cycle with the ease and effectiveness of a kindergarten student.


Chapter 3: Play - A Life Time Pursuit Throughout creative education theory “play” is constantly referenced as a crucial aspect to development. The role the child plays, and her relationship to the object if the object has changed its meaning, will always stem from the rules, i.e., the imaginary situation will always contain rules. In play, the child is free, but this is an illusory freedom” (Vygotsky 1967, p10). It is hard to justify to those educated through a system, which actively ‘stigmatises’ (Robinson, 2006) a natural part of human development such as play. However, Vygotsky points out that rather than being the leisurely and meaningless activity that play is often seen as today, it actually holds contextual relationships and rules to the subjects life experiences (‘objects’), and that through play, they seek to understand their life experiences. ‘Traditional questions tend to ignore the complex mix of cognitive, social and emotional factors that are ‘at work’ in any play’ (Cohen,1993.p191). It is important that play is not seen as an activity reserved for children, in a similar way that creativity is not reserved for the arts. Ken Robinson defines Creative play’ as Seeking to see the world afresh — it is at times a fight against the fascination which familiar associations and directions of thought exert upon us. Young people need to be encouraged to understand the importance of this kind of ‘play’.’(1998,p.31). This is a useful definition for the understanding of play post Kindergarten. Robinson points out that play involves the active discovery and understanding of that which one is unfamiliar with. The specific mention of young people is due to the definition being written for state education. Although, it is commonly thought throughout academic writing on creative education and ‘play’ that it should not be confined within childhood. ’Adults aught to play more’ (Cohen,1993.p192) developing ‘play from womb to tomb’ (Cohen,1993.p193) perhaps explains best that we might benefit to see play as a lifelong pursuit. Especially when comparing Robinsons definition on Creative play and Kolb’s thinking on organisations and institutions needing to realise the new ‘rules of the game’ (Kolb,2014). If the institutions of today wish to survive in a new changing climate, they must recognise the


need to see ‘the the world afresh’ as crucial for their own economic development and survival and that this can be achieved through play.

Figure 3: ‘Experiential learning as the process that links education, work and Personal Development’ (Kolb,2014.p4) Kolb’s describes Experiential learning Theory. It pictures the work place as a learning environment that can enhance and supplement formal education and can foster personal development through meaningful work and career development opportunities, and it stresses the role of formal education in lifelong learning and the development of individuals to their full potential as citizens, family members and human beings.(2014.p4) Surely the aim to learn continually as this describes, throughout one’s life, enhancing not only one’s work but one’s capacity as a ‘human being’ must require a process by which one is able to connect, understand and develop their experiences from all walks of ‘every day life’ (Robinson,1999). In the Steiner Kindergarten play is seen as a vital part of their pedagogy. the children are given opportunity for child led free play both inside and outside, play arising out of the child’s own observation of life, where they have the opportunity to integrate socially and to use their imaginations and fantasy to recreate and work out situations which they have seen or experienced (2012.p6). 18

The children within the Steiner Kindergarten understand their surroundings through play. They are able to use their own ‘observations of life’ and through play are able to understand them. At this level, we can easily see the benefit of play to an infant not yet accustomed to their surrounding world. Why then does it seem so alien to imagine the benefit play could bring to people at any age? The process of play enables these children to connect, understand and develop their experiences from all walks of ‘everyday life’(Robinson,1999) and therefore, surely it is possible that the process necessary for the Experiential Learning theory is that of play. If we see play as the process necessary for experiential learning then we see play as a fundamental part of (our) development of knowledge. A process that enables one to connect their personal development, education, and work together to ‘work out’(Steiner, 2012.p6) those experiences that they do not yet understand, enabling a richer and indeed more creative existence. Resnick’s ‘creative learning spiral’ includes play as one of its pillars. If we refer back to Robinson’s definition of creativity and think about play as an experiential process, it is clear that creativity and play could not exist without each other. They follow each other through the learning spiral. Play produces creativity, and creativity produces play. They are both intrinsically linked to each other and develop through the experiences of the individual. It is therefore no surprise that the industrialised education system, mostly educating ‘from the waist up’ (Robinson,2006) by sitting at desks and listening to lectures does not foster play or creativity. In a similar way to ones working or home environments, if the tasks (where ever they may be) are repetitive, familiar and sedentary then surely the experiences of these environments will be limited and in turn limit the play and creativity of the individual. It is in this regard that Robinson stated, it is in the ‘interdisciplinary’ that will see the most creative thinking. Mixing as many types of experiences into our play and creativity will produce the most understanding and broad range of thinking. We should engage with this idea to create the most productive working, educational and home environments, to enrich ourselves further ‘as citizens, family members and human beings’


Conclusion When considering creativity today in a contemporary setting, it seems necessary to remove it from an exclusivity of the arts and allow it to be seen within the wider context of learning. It is clear that the ‘industrialised’ learning method does not leave room for creativity to flourish and that teaching must ensure learning provides the freedom for true original thinking. The need for a shift from A-grade students to ‘x students’ would seem vital in the continual ability to learn and develop in light of technological advances. It seems that the traditional fears of technology from creative education need not be so prevalent. That said we should, as with any walk of life, be aware of the implications certain areas can have not only on children but on humanity as a whole. It is a necessary development that we create a culture of understanding that frames creative learning tools as vital to creative education. Within this we must embrace technology as a central part of this toolkit in order to not only incorporate a broad range of experiences from everyday life but ensure that we remain relevant to the life of tomorrow. Resnick’s ‘creative learning spiral’ adopted from the methods of the kindergarten, originated from Froebel in 1837, seems the most contemporary and practically relevant model available today which could in fact create the ‘ifelong Kindergarten’ if it was a commitment throughout the education system. Perhaps it can be beneficial to consider creativity a cycle from the the re-creative to the creative and understand that ones contextual surroundings can influence how many times one should complete it. However it is important that within educational institutions that the educators have the knowledge and understanding to help students achieve Robinsons idea of historic originality. It now seems clear that the transition between education models can be problematic and it is necessary to offer a course that helps cope with this change, perhaps focusing on the re-creative end of the creative spiral which may lead students to eventually pass through a creative learning model ‘threshold concept’ to become Resnick’s x students before starting and being able to engage fully in a creative education model like the Creative Learning Spiral.


It seems that play is a common denominator of all creative learning. It is a developmental process that contains rules.It is a way to understand the experiences we encounter in everyday life and prepares people to deal with institutional and systematic changes that may come in the future. Considering Robinson’s deffiniton of Creative Play alongside Kolb’s ‘Experiential Learning Theory’ and the Steiner Kindergarten approach to play, We see play as the process needed to achieve experiential learning and as the mechanics of creative development. Perhaps the future of creative learning and the creation of X thinkers in the end comes down to the ability to play. In light of nearly half of today’s jobs being at high risk to the development of technology by 2050, it is now not a choice but a necessity to embrace creative learning in all walks of life.

Written by Patrick McDowell (MCD14420273)


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Luria, A. (1994). The problem of the cultural behaviour of the child. In: R. Van Der Veer and J. Valsiner, ed., The Vygotsky reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, p.46. Resnick, M and (Robinson K (forword)) . (2017). Life Long Kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers and play. London: MIT press, p.2-13. Robinson, K. (1999). All our Futures: Creativity, culture and education . London, p.28-34. Robinson, K. (2006, February). Ken Robinson: Do Schools Kill Creativity [Video file]. Retrieved from [Accessed 25 Dec.2017] Sadler, D.R. (1998) Formative assessment: revisiting the territory: Assessment in Education, Principles, policy and practice,5, p.77. Smith, G. (1997). The Internal Breeding-Ground of Creativity. In: Ă…. Andersson and N. Sahlin, ed., The Complexity of Creativity. Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, p.26. Sproat, H. (2012). Threshold Concepts in BA Fashion. [Blog] Sprout. Available at: http:// [Accessed 22 Dec. 2017]. Steiner Waldorf Education (2014). Information about Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Settings. [online] p.9. Available at: [Accessed 10 Dec. 2017]. Till, J. (2017). Creativity in Central saint Martins. [interviewed in person 20 Dec.2017. 2:00pm]. Vygotsky, l. (1994). The development of academic concepts in school aged children. In: R.

Van Der Veer and J. Valsiner, ed., The Vygotsky reader. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, p. 365


List of Figures:

Figure.1. Mitchell Resnick,The Creative Learning Spiral Resnick, M and (Robinson K (foreword)) . (2017). Life Long Kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers and play. London: MIT press, p.12. Figure.2. Bauhaus Wheel Diagram in English (original in German 1920) Borteh, L. (2017). Bauhaus Movement, Artists and Major Works. [online] The Art Story. Available at: [Accessed 25 Dec. 2017]. Figure.3. David Kolb, Experiential Learning Diagram (2014) Kolb, D. (2014). Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. second edition. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc., p.4.


Creative Education Dissertation  

Dissertation by Patrick McDowell on Creative Education. Written during final year of BA fashion Design Womenswear at Central Saint Martins

Creative Education Dissertation  

Dissertation by Patrick McDowell on Creative Education. Written during final year of BA fashion Design Womenswear at Central Saint Martins