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Think creatively

Surrey may be unique in having a creativity consultant for the arts. At least Ged Gast thinks so. Mr Gast was only recently appointed. His job? To help schools put thinking skills and the arts at the centre of their work.

With so much emphasis on literacy, numeracy and targets, the arts have had a lean time. Mr Gast thinks they are due for a resurgence. A committee of scientists, artists, educationists and business leaders set up by Whitehall has called for "genuine parity" for all national curriculum subjects.

Many people think the report makes good sense, says Mr Gast, but schools are perplexed about how to implement its recommendations in an already crowded curriculum.

A method already used by many schools is Edward de Bono's 'Six Thinking Hats', which encourages children to reflect on different kinds of thinking. Children are given a group problem to solve, and each child wears a different coloured hat that determines the kind of ideas they can suggest. For example, the white hat concentrates on facts and figures, the yellow hat makes constructive suggestions and the black hat puts up logical challenges to the other ideas.

By swapping hats and roles children are encouraged to understand how groups make decisions and that ideas don't just come from nowhere.

"Children can break thinking into its categories and use them," says Mr Gast.. It gives them an understanding of how people work in different ways. They feel confident in the views they hold and can express those views."

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