Written by Valentina Maccario, Cambodia VMPC.….
A few years ago, I saw a Ted Talk titled ‘Do schools kill creativity?’. The speaker, Sir Ken Robinson, revealed himself as an education pioneer suggesting the simplest yet most revolutionary of ideas: let’s rethink our perception of intelligence. He focused on the clear hierarchy of subjects within the education system where almost always mathematics, language and science are placed at the top and creative arts are placed at the bottom.
After working closely with a volunteer group of art and animation university students from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, who came to engage students in the arts with Challenges Abroad, it became evident how important Sir Ken Robinson’s speech remains. Providing children the opportunity to explore diverse forms of learning, skills and topics for their development and through this foster not only skills of art but inspire ideas of individual expression, innovation and creativity is exactly what FSF Cambodia is seeking to achieve with volunteer groups on their overseas programmes.
The beauty of humanity is that each person holds their own personal skill sets, perception and learning process, yet education fails children when it limits them to only one way of learning, confining their focus to the perceived ‘intelligent’ subjects only. Whereas the most traditional perception of conventional intelligence is tailored towards our ability to memorise, recite and regurgitate precise information, children engage in a myriad of ways.
Volunteers that focus on FSF Cambodia’s Creative Arts Programmes are able to provide a platform for the children whose minds work differently, creating a safe, stimulating and open space where skills of innovation, individuality and creativity are as valued as memory retention, language skills and numeracy.
Through listening, acting, speaking, drawing, both following an instruction precisely and being allowed to explore it with complete independence, our volunteers can inspire the children in more than just learning art forms, they can teach them the value in exploring their own personal creativity.
Through Creative Arts programmes we can uphold a weighted emphasis on all subjects, maximising the FutureSense Foundation’s objectives to encourage longevity of schooling, increasing and maintaining student retention rates and increasing the value of education overall. Volunteers are invaluable in sharing differing passions, skills and learning in a range of subjects that would not otherwise be focused on in the curriculum. Ultimately, testing a huge diversity of children in one fixed way is the equivalent of judging all species on their ability to fly when their best way to prosper is to run, climb or swim.
Through programmes focused more on creative arts, we can bring this idea to life: inspiring children to think outside of the box, to be curious and to be expressive and through this to be inspired and engaged by their education system. By running a range of educational programmes, volunteers will continue to show that sometimes our view of intelligence is as simple as a change in perception, where ‘mistakes’ are independent thinking, and ‘distractions’ are just as likely to be signs of risk-taking and innovation. The FutureSense Foundation has the privilege of working in Cambodia, a country that despite an incomprehensible history is inhabited by a population of the most resilient, compassionate and welcoming human beings.
We are working within an exciting period of growth, where signs of entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity continue to over-come the difficult infrastructure and financial obstacles the country faces.
Cultivating creativity is as important now as ever both locally and world-wide. As we continue to work within schools and make an impact via education, running programmes in a range of subjects, learning styles and skills will be as monumental in creating the next generation of pioneers as in crushing Sir Robinson’s greatest fear, that ‘We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.’ Through the words and actions of Creative Arts volunteers, we continue to revolutionise our perspective of ‘intelligence’, upholding the truth that every human being is just as valued, just as intelligent and just as important.