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Be Creative, Or Risk Being Rendered Obsolete

Dubai, Singapore and many other advanced nations are a result of great imagination and inventiveness. It all began with them understanding that transcending traditional means to developing new ideas was good for economic advancement.

Creativity is necessary for economic and social progress. It serves as the most aggressive marketing tool in modern times. Despite this necessity, there is still lack of creativity in society. Seventy percent of the cost of a product is determined by its design, so much that creative design can lead to substantial savings (Munroe 1995).

This explains why we still have a huge import bill and by extension creating external employment in the process. Globalisation and competition have posed new challenges for businesses today. In order to keep up with these challenges, multi cooperation and governments have resorted to creativity as medicine. As a result, creativity training for employees has become a key area.

To greater extent creativity deficiency in the society is an educational problem. Being a 21st century skill, creativity ought to be embedded in our curriculum such that it is planned for as we design the learning activities for our learners. It is possible to reform educational practices so that it promotes creativity.

This can be done through training teachers on 21st century learning design and firming up on its assessment using learning activity rubrics. In ancient times, learning approaches were mainly characterised by efficient acquisition of socially relevant and valued information, rapid and accurate recall of the information upon demand and clever application of the most appropriate elements of the already known in life.

If we are to gauge this type of educational approach to the challenges of that time, we can safely conclude that the approach sufficiently helped the learners to navigate through life. (Guilford 1950) posits that divergent thinking is necessary for inventiveness and originality. He goes on further to say that creativity should be fostered in a classroom in order to promote national security. This is what a 21st century curriculum should pursue today.

 Creative teaching focusses on the teacher and his/her planning for engagement while teaching for creativity focusses on the students and the extent to which their own creative thinking is being developed. We need both these scenarios. Life by its very nature is subject to unprecedentedly rapid change. It is evident that

knowledge and skills acquired by an individual haves an ever diminishing half-live. The knowledge and skills needed in the future may not even be known at the time a person attends school or university. As a result these learning institutions cannot limit themselves to the transmissions of set contents, techniques and values. These might soon be useless or even detrimental to living a full life.

Our learning institutions must promote flexibility, exercise openness, adapt to new ways of doing things and have the courage to face the unexpected. These properties are becoming increasingly necessary if we are to deliver a 21st century learner who will be armed with the relevant arsenal to take on the challenges posed by the ever rapidly changing world. My experience as a teacher tells me that creativity is in abundance, both in teachers and students. Just pay a visit to the numerous school subject fairs and one gets to appreciate creativity at play. But the fact that these products do not find a way to addressing real life problems or situations, they just fall short of being termed creative.

The environment, educational system and mind-set of educators are what limit its manifestation. The system characterises creativity as mysterious and unknowable, thus incapable of being assessed and graded.

The environment characterises it as a special property found in only a few individuals thus fearing segregation of learners. Then the educators are at unease to emphasise creativity in schools for fear of bringing out in students elements of disobedience, carelessness, imprecise or just plain naughty behaviour.

All these discourage creativity in schools and influence policy against it. Nevertheless, there is always light at the end of every tunnel. Encouraging signs are in the offing as described by the National Curriculum Assessment Framework (NCAF, June 2017). Successful implementation of the framework will do justice to the creative and innovation gap in our schools. This will also embolden the prospects of self-employment by the youth who are very inventive.

*Ignatious Njobvu is a Performance Improvement Coordinator at Maun Senior Secondary School & OBE Task Team Four Core Member.


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