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Building Creative Capabilities for Future Success

Sir Ken Robinson, renowned international advisor on arts education, gave an incredible TED talk as far back as 2007. In his talk – which has now been viewed more than 31 million times – he made a striking point; that most students of today will be entering a job force that we presently cannot visualise.

This talk was given over 10 years ago and is even more valid today. In 20 years’ time, the employment landscape will look vastly different to what it does now, and in order to keep up, children need creative skills more than ever.

In this emerging future of unprecedented change, a new vision is emerging of the skills and traits needed for success in the modern era. Creativity is set to become an essential skill needed for the 21st century and could be ‘the most powerful of all resources to be rich in’ over the decades to come.

This rings true across top performing businesses even today. An article written earlier this week by The Song Room Chair Andrew Baxter states that unlocking creativity is critical to business growth. Companies that have been investing in creative thinking and design have a clear leading edge on those that don’t. A global survey of 1500 CEO’s by IBM also found that creativity was considered the number one leadership trait for the future. In fact, ‘creative’ is one of the most commonly used terms on LinkedIn each year.

So how do we unlock creativity in children? Part of the answer lies in the arts.

Arts education is valued very differently around the world, but one trend is clear: countries that place a higher value on the arts enjoy better results across the curriculum than countries that view it as an ‘add on’.

Arts education is linked to enhanced academic achievement, and in fact The Song Room has a significant body of independent research into the efficacy of music and arts programs in schools, particularly in terms of student outcomes. The impacts we have on students can be distinctly measured by better results in their grades, by improvements in the way they relate to their teachers, by a heightened sense of self-esteem and by their levels of engagement.

Our work helps these children understand how to express their emotions and opinions in a constructive way, meaning they can contribute to the wider school community more positively and confidently. These skills lay a strong foundation to success in the workforce of tomorrow.

The Australian curriculum is beginning to adapt to these changes. From January 2017, Australian schools have shifted their focus from being primarily on reading, writing and mathematics, to other, so-called ‘soft’ skills needed for future success. New capabilities which include incredibly important life attributes such as collaboration, perseverance, problem solving, empathy and self-reflection are being introduced, which really begs the question why these skills are being called ‘soft’ at all?

In order to ensure creativity is truly embedded in education, it must not only be taught, but also assessed, ideally across the curriculum.

While assessing creativity presents challenges now, new groundwork, including the inclusion of creative capability assessment as the innovative domain of PISA 2021, aims to work towards this goal. Their foundation research echoes our conclusions that creative classes in schools are directly associated with positive improvements in social and emotional wellbeing, as well as a range of essential skills of the future.

As advocates for music and arts education, and indeed for creativity across all areas of school life, we look forward to continuing to do our part to brighten the futures of more of the 3 in 4 Australian children that currently miss out on all the opportunities a creative education can bring.

Caroline Aebersold
Chief Executive Officer
The Song Room


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