This week I attend the Go creative – get a job! conference at Highgate School. It was a brilliant day with some incredible speakers and panel discussions. It’s always motivating and reinvigorating to go to a conference, and it reminded me to find out more about my students’ passions and to rethink about my teaching approaches in some areas where I could be using a more creative approach.
Here are some of my key takeaways from the day:
- Follow your passion
Meera Syal spoke enthusiastically about encouraging students to make choices for A Level and university that aligned with their passions and the things that they enjoy, rather than choosing based on an outdated idea of studying a ‘sensible subject’ that would guarantee them a particular job. She highlighted that as immigrants to the UK, her parents weren’t able to continue the careers they had pursued in India and therefore were wholly supportive of her choice to study English and Drama at Manchester University. Her surrounding network of friends and family may not have understood her choice, but she described how much she loved her experience of studying the Arts and how formative her years at university were. Perhaps even more significantly for the parents of students who worry that their children will struggle to find work if they study and Arts subject, she listed the numerous and varied successful careers that her peers have found themselves in, and highlighted how much they enjoy these.
This really resonated with me, as although I teach Science and Physics, it is often the case that parents don’t want their children, particularly girls, to peruse further study of Physics because they don’t understand what jobs and careers can follow. Given that 70% of jobs require no specific degree qualification, I agree that students should be encouraged to follow their interests and passions. This will breed successful habits and the characteristics such as creativity, curiosity and persistence that employers seek. It will surely also result in happier, healthier and more confident young people.
- Creativity extends to all disciplines
Careers in the Arts are often referred to as being in the creative industries, the terms ‘arts’ and ‘creative’ used interchangeably, yet creativity is a characteristic that applies across all careers, industries and disciplines.
Helen Steer, CEO of Do It Kits is a strong advocate for learning through making and doing, as well as makers spaces. She, along with others, articulated how needed creativity is in not only fields such as advertising and writing but in Science and technology. Creativity in school will allow students to access the world of coding, computing and smart technologies.
- Desirable skills for employers
At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year a report was issued that shared the skills that the employers of the next few decades will be looking for, such as creativity, collaboration and empathy. Karen Blackett, OBE, spoke convincingly about how in the advertising industry, and for any employer, emotional intelligence is essential for anyone to be able to lead and to follow. Allowing students to develop and follow their creative instincts in school will build these essential life skills and lead them to successful futures.