Skills are key to creative future, says expert

28th September 2012 at 01:00
And as a small nation Scotland can lead the way, claims SLF keynote speaker

Scotland is better placed to develop creative education than many bigger countries which are struggling with the concept, according to one of the leading experts in the field.

Paul Collard, a keynote speaker at the Scottish Learning Festival in Glasgow last week, said this was "probably the most exciting time to grow up" because young people could invent their own careers.

But they would only be able to do that if they had the right skills.

"If you don't have those skills, the world is not interested. Non-skilled jobs are just not out there any more," said the chief executive of the international organisation Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE), which runs the Creative Partnerships programme linking schools and creative professionals.

Creativity brought with it the ability to question, make connections, innovate, problem-solve, communicate, collaborate and reflect critically - skills young people need to manage their own learning.

With a jibe against those who thought the only "real subjects" were those which had tests and categories, Mr Collard highlighted one element of the international Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) research relating to pupils' interest and confidence in a subject, which was a more accurate predictor of whether a young person went on to study a subject than their test scores.

"Finland always wins with the best science scores, but Finnish students are the least interested, so they don't go on to study science at university or follow science careers," Mr Collard said.

Related to this was the "self" concept - or "how well you think you are doing" in a subject. The dominant pedagogy in Japan and Korea was transmissive - the teacher at the front of the class, holding a microphone, "belting out facts". Students worked from 7.30am to 1.00am the next morning, learning to regurgitate facts.

On a visit to South Korea, he had visited classrooms where children were fast asleep and there were tall desks at the back of the room where pupils propped themselves up to keep themselves awake.

"The consequence is that there are very high test scores but they come out thinking they are no good at the subject. Their thinking is: `If I was any good, I would not have had to work so hard in such a boring way.' Without confidence and interest, it is self-defeating."

Korea's young suicide rates were "right at the top", with high-achievers particularly vulnerable because coming third instead of first was seen as failure, he said.

When he asked one Korean headteacher how he felt about the youth suicide rate, the head cried and said: "I can't bear this," said Mr Collard.

"In England, Michael Gove goes on about how great Korea is - he should go there and talk to the teachers and pupils about what it is really like."

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