Gove and the salad bar

Here’s an interesting piece on creativity, and how to encourage it in schools (or not). I was most struck by this:

There are various myths about creativity. One is that only special people are creative

It seems to me that this is one of the most pernicious such myths. It has a long pedigree – back through the Romantics all the way to the oral tradition of the poet as seer or oracle. Its persistence may have something to do with the way it flatters ‘creative people’: if someone says you’re special or have a special talent or gift, there’s a temptation to roll over and let them scratch your belly. And it licences bad behaviour.

But it also scares off other people from aspiring to the role: ‘I can’t do that,’ they think, ‘I’m not special. I’m ordinary.’ (And/or it attracts others who do think they are special, and are then held back by not being disabused of this idea.)

Being ‘creative’, as Ken Robinson points out, isn’t just about the arts. In fact, it’s about everything. Anyone who’s ever stacked up a Pizza Hut salad bowl knows that there is creativity to making the most of your lunch. ‘Maybe I’ll use cucumber to extend the structure of the bowl. How will I stop sweetcorn tumbling off?’ That’s pretty much the sort of question I ask myself in writing a poem. We don’t weaken the arts by this admission: rather, we strengthen them, by demystifying artistic practice, and making it normal, and admissible to all.


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