“Creativity is as important as literacy and numeracy. We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.”

These words were coined by Sir Ken Robinson who was knighted in 2003 for his enormous inquiry into the significance of creativity in the educational system and the economy.

Unlike traditional subjects, Art is taught inconsistently across all different primary schools; some are taught daily by accredited Art teachers, while other schools offer rudimentary monthly craft activities. This sets up from an early age that Art is an optional endeavour, when in fact the thought processes inherent in Art underscore every other subject studied. Recently, Christine Marmé Thompson, Penn State professor of Art Education said, “Seeing Art as expendable indicates a deep misunderstanding of the role it plays at the centre of learning”.

When we get down to it, very few people feel they’re good at Art. In fact, when asked, most non-artists proudly state that they “can’t even draw a stick figure”.

Image: Laura Peters (11 Red) was part of the Centenarian Portrait Project this year.

Image: Laura Peters (11 Red) was part of the Centenarian Portrait Project this year.

There has long been a mindset that “you have to be born with artistic talent”. No adult would direct a child away from studying Mathematics because their child hadn’t instantly comprehended complex trigonometry, yet this is how they approach the study of Art.

We are all artists as toddlers, however we are slowly taught out of our originality by adults who offer praise when a child stops ‘scribbling’ and begins drawing symbols that adults easily recognise. Sadly, most adults have already gone through this de-sensitising process and therefore don’t know how to support their children. They can feel helpless, particularly when their children demonstrate talent.

So how do we support our children? Like developing any skill, acquiring knowledge requires persistence and we need to speak the correct language to develop, not stifle, creativity.

Remind your child that frustration is a great indicator they are learning something new and, if they persevere, they will naturally improve to the next level and the next challenge. Some questions you can ask your children are:

– “Why have you used that colour?”

– “What do those lines/shapes mean?”

– “Tell me about what you’ve created here.”

These questions help avoid the verbal trap of praising visual choices – you are showing them you value what they have drawn from their imagination, rather than a cookie cutter symbol. Listen to their intended message and respond with enthusiasm towards their originality, persistence and creativity. The internet also has amazing free resources that will spark the designer in us all.

Art’s place in our future cannot be understated. Several popular studies point to the likelihood that 65% of the jobs available by 2030 have yet to be invented. Our children will face the frustrating challenge of preparing for careers that may not even exist yet. In many circles, Art has been tipped as the primary subject needed for many of these future careers.

TED speaker and AI expert, Kai-Fu Lee (formerly of Apple, Microsoft and Google) suggests in a multitude of online talks and reports that in the 15 year horizon, the foremost employable abilities will be creativity and compassion. You can search the internet for his great talks if you want to know More.

Unlike many schools, Hillbrook has a proud history of supporting The Arts, clearly recognising that the skills of a well balanced lifelong learner require far more than fact recall and following directives. Studying Art isn’t about having works shown in a gallery, but about applying a flexible mindset to any and all problems.

KATHY OWEN – Visual Arts Coordinator
TAMARA GERLIC- Visual Arts & Home Class Teacher
Image: Portrait by Lily Cooper (9 Red)