Creativity at the Core of Curriculum

Why do we need creativity at the core of what we teach kids?

Because we want them to make the most of the life they have been blessed with.

We want them to see possibilities and have the competence and resilience to seize the opportunities that come across their path.

Why then is creativity a “nice to have” skill?

Why then is it a general capability rather than a core capability in our schools?

Can we successfully go through life not being able to solve our problems and time after time miss opportunities and expect to be happy and fulfilled?

I don’t think so.

Creativity is the process of original ideas that add value. - Sir Ken Robinson

Should we instead be flipping what we teach our kids on its head? Core curriculum becomes general and General Capabilities become core to what we learn.

Instead we teach how to be creative first and use what we currently understand to be Core Curriculum such as Maths, Science to help us solve problems with originality and English to help us convince others that our untried novel idea is worth pursuing. As educators we now have a tool – creativity – to demonstrate the value of communicating with clarity.

Currently we teach the principles of math such as ‘perimeter and area’ and try to make it fit into a relevant daily life scenario, if lucky.

Why don’t we start with a problem that we experience in life and then draw on math, science, english, history, design or art to answer the question. When the children understand how to ask good questions that require a solution we can then help them solve their problems.

We don’t need to be productive we need to be creative. Machines will handle productivity for us.

We have some problems to solve

We have some problems to solve like consumption, habitat destruction, disease, inequality, war, famine and poverty and we cannot afford to keep doing things the way we have always done them.

If we are asking our next generation to focus on problems (address) or opportunities (take advantage of) then this forces them to get good at asking ‘why.’

This is what our founding philosophers, Plato and Socrates were so good at. They asked why until they got to a root cause. They then set about formulating ideas with such clarity, that they have stood the test of time to date.

Schools are valuable but should be swap General Capabilities our Core?

agree with Hattie when he says the purpose of schools is to learn stuff we wouldn’t learn at home.

As a parent I am not an expert in math or have a deep knowledge of ancient history or fluent in a foreign language and culture. We need to have people who are, so they can impart their knowledge and a school system is a wonderful place to do this. We learn from people that have gone before us, that have reflected and thought deeply and have worked out how to make their knowledge relevant to us.

How we then incorporate that into our lives is where creativity really kicks in. After we have ‘saturated’ ourselves with this new knowledge we ‘Percolate’ it over in our minds and brew something that is pleasing to our palate.

When it is relevant we remember it better.

Reimagining how we educate

How to put creativity at the centre of learning

For a couple of years we ran a very popular face to face workshop called “Make my bedroom mine.” Eight girls at a time would spend a morning with us designing a moodboard for their bedroom. Prior to the day they would have to send in how they wanted to feel in their room.

We chose a bedroom because it is one of the few spaces a tween/teenager has control over in their life. At school the classroom is not theirs. At home the rest of the house is not theirs. In public the cafe, park, street is not theirs.

Their bedroom is a refuge.

The ‘feeling’ word is placed in the centre of their board and becomes the reference point for their design.

Throughout the rest of the morning they learn basic principles of design. One is layout. This is where math – space and perimeter become relevant as they are asked to measure out their room before they come. In this discussion they learn about feng shui – an ancient discipline that originated in Chinese astronomy around 6000 years ago. It simply means wind (feng) and water (shui).

Just this one section of the workshop ‘layout’ has incorporated math, history and language. This can take a student’s curiosity and imagination down lots of different paths, let alone how the rest of the workshop such as colour, texture, pattern and senses (art) could further intrigue a child’s mind.

When it is relevant we remember it better.

This could be extended even further with the students actually redesigning their room. Decluttering and selling their excess pre-loved items on eBay to make some pocket money or donate to charity (Economics + Business, Civics and Technology).

Sir Ken Robinson asked recently ‘When we go back to normal should we go back to normal?’ or could we see this as a way to do things differently because we are living in different times from when the current education system was designed over a 100 years ago to be aligned with what factories needed in their workers.

Organisations need something different. Society needs something different. Our earth needs something different. Let our schools give it to them and make our next generation of beautiful children excited and engaged about learning again.


Jane Harbison teaches the process of #creativity in a unique way. To have her do a workshop with staff at your school using project based learning please contact her on

Feeling confident and creative

5 Step Creative Process

It is so obvious you probably already do it.

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