By Michele Bett, Head of Upper School
Sir Ken Robinson, a British author and international advisor on education, tells the story of a test on divergent thinking (i.e., creativity) in which young children scored 98%, early teenagers scored 10%, and adults scored 2%. His point is that schools tend to educate students out of creativity when they should be doing just the opposite, in his view, creativity is as important as literacy.
Sir Ken is not alone. A few years ago, IBM conducted a survey of CEOs all over the world about the most important leadership qualities needed in our new economic environment, and creativity came out on top. At Ridley College, we couldn’t agree more.
The exciting Arts morning held on Saturday, February 25th is just the latest example of how the Ridley College Upper School is bucking the educational trend and affirming the importance of creativity and arts in young people’s development.
Arts express our common humanity; arts communicate not just information but meaning, value, and life itself. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Art is the signature of man.” In a recent review of a book about Chesterton, a writer is quoted who says that the purpose of the arts is “to remove the automatism of perception.” In other words, the arts shake up our routine ways of knowing and give us the power to see with new eyes, to hear with new ears, to think with new minds, and to feel with new hearts. The arts give us an opportunity to become a beginner again, like a young child.
Our continued commitment to positive psychology informs us that it is important in our lives to be able to find activities that require our full engagement. This sort of engagement helps us to learn, develop and cultivate our personal happiness. When we concentrate on something that entirely absorbs us we are creating a ‘flow’ of rich and deep immersion into an activity, and it’s this very type of ‘flow’ of engagement that is so important in stretching our intelligence, skills, and emotional competencies.
So to celebrate this shake-up and to find ways to help our students find their “flow”, we have captured for you images of our creativity here on campus. From tap dancing to cap making, at Ridley College, our teachers and students are embracing the power and importance of artistic understanding so essential in a world beyond our school gates.