Leader.co.za - Management, Training and Career Advice for Business Leaders







07 FEBRUARY 2017
Are we suppressing creativity in our education system?

by Jon Foster-Pedley: Dean, Henley Business School South Africa.

It is a fact that people have talent, but are educators growing these talents? Current teaching tends to only reward perfection or near perfection, based on students getting distinctions. Should education place more focus on students who will probably not achieve distinctions but who have specific talents that could make them potential creatives, leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators?

In most educational systems, if 15% of students achieve distinctions, the teacher and school receives credit. But what about the other 85%? The point is, getting something 80% to 100% perfect is not necessarily the best solution.

The question is: Are we suppressing creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership in our education system by striving for perfection? There is certainly a need for creativity in education, this has been taught to me by students. However, creativity does not necessarily relate to perfection. The two are generally opposites. Education should encourage students to be creatively analytical and to develop their specific skills and confidence.

How should we develop strong leaders who have these skills, what is a creative leader and how can society benefit? I believe that this is someone who looks at leadership differently. A true leader needs to be brave and, at the same time, not be a dictator. Leadership is not about you. If you want to learn something then teach it, that’s how one becomes a good leader. Leading and then learning from the practical experience.

A creative leader’s communication will be different. For example, you will get a better response and more positive action by asking someone the question: “What is the one point you could do to improve your family situation?” Rather than saying: “Your family is messed up, what are you going to do about it?”

In our quest for perfection in business, we are often blinded from creativity. Creativity liberates both our imagination and innovation. On the other hand, productivity-focused leadership is limiting.

Some people say that they are not creative. This is because they are programmed to think that way. Prejudice assumes what someone is long before you discover who they really are. This can happen in our education system. Society has believed for so many years that education equals intelligence. Now we see how wrong we have been. It’s a form of prejudice.

True leaders are not afraid of creativity. Their view is that creativity is not dangerous. They welcome new ideas, solutions and interpretations and go beyond the norm. However, it seems that the education system often stigmatises creativity and therefore leadership.

Creativity will always ensure you are on the edge, in unchartered waters, out of your comfort zone. Good leaders believe it is possible to lead under these conditions and enjoy the ride. Creative leaders believe there must be space to hold alternate views and accept the unconventional, in what is largely a conservative, productivity-focused, perfection-driven society.
Useful resources:

Henley Business School
At the core of Henley’s philosophy is the belief that we need to develop managers and leaders for the future. We believe the challenge facing future leaders is the need to solve dilemmas through making choices. We work with both individuals and organisations to create the appropriate learning environment to facilitate the critical thinking skills to prepare for the future. Visit our InfoCentre or website.

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