Imagination should infuse teaching of science as well as the arts. Children are not pitchers to be filled with factsYou can’t see it, smell it, hear it. People disagree on how, precisely, to define it, or where, exactly, it comes from. It isn’t a school subject or an academic discipline, but it can be learned. It is a quality that is required by artists. But it is also present in the lives of scientists and entrepreneurs. All of us benefit from it: we thrive mentally and spiritually when we are able to harness it. It is a delicate thing, easily stamped out; in fact, it flourishes most fully when people are playful and childlike. At the same time, it works best in tandem with deep knowledge and expertise.
This mysterious – but teachable – quality is creativity, the subject of a report published this week by Durham Commission on Creativity and Education, a body chaired by Sir Nicholas Serota, the chair of Arts Council England, with input from figures including film director Beeban Kidron, architect Sir David Adjaye and choreographer Akram Khan. The report, put together in collaboration with academics from Durham University, concludes that creativity is not something that should inhabit the school curriculum only as it relates to drama, music, art and other obviously creative subjects, but that creative thinking ought to run through all of school life, infusing the way human and natural sciences are learned.