Mon 10 Jun 2019 5 min read

#5 Growing creative intelligence prepares students to be best for the world

Kai Vacher

“We are makers, thinkers, doers and designers. Drawing on skills in both art and science we work to create spaces where we love to live, are inspired to learn and where we enjoy to work. Creative thinking skills and intelligence are critical to what we do.”

Nathan Wheatley, Director, engenuiti, an award-winning structural engineering practice in London.

From structural engineering to architecture, computer coding to digital marketing, creativity is paramount to so many opportunities in the modern workplace. Here at British School Muscat (BSM), we believe that an education that puts creativity at the forefront of our students’ learning experience is preparing them to be best for the world.

Creativity underpins everything we do at BSM

At BSM we combine a rigorous, objective-based British curriculum with an open-ended, flexible and child-centred approach to learning where creative thinking is allowed to flourish.

In this way our students are encouraged to express themselves; to articulate their ideas and feelings and communicate clearly in a complex, multi disciplinary world. To understand the human experience students are afforded opportunities to articulate that experience – poetry, creative writing, dance, music, the visual arts and drama all allow our students to explore what it is to be human. However we don’t limit creativity to the arts: we know it is paramount to every aspect of the learning experience.

Creative intelligence prepares students for the world ahead of them.

Professor Luckin, author of “Machine Learning and Human Intelligence: the future of education in the 21st century” and one of the leading thinkers on the role of artificial intelligence in education, shared her views on how education needs to evolve in our rapidly changing world at the COBIS Annual Conference in London earlier this year.

In particular, I liked the way in which Professor Luckin argued that it was time to move on from the tired “skills versus knowledge” debate. Instead, Luckin explained, we should be focusing on the intelligences that students need to thrive in the 21st century; creative intelligence being one of these.

Growing creative intelligence is central to our BSM Learning Ethos, as identified by our staff body 5 years ago when we agreed the desired outcomes of education for our students. Furthermore, global educator Professor Deborah Eyre, as part of her research into the cognitive characteristics of high-performing learners, has identified growing creative intelligence as essential to the educational experience of students.

At BSM we have taken considerable steps to ensure creativity plays a role throughout the entire school, from Nursery through to the Sixth Form. We have extended the more informal curriculum design of our Foundation Stage into Key Stage 1, creating a workshop-style environment for more of the week. Students participate in woodwork, art and problem-solving: all activities where their creative intelligence can flourish.

There is no hierarchy in our curriculum: Drama, Dance, Music, Art, Design and Technology, English, Media and Film are all on equal footing with Science, Mathematics, Humanities, MFL and Sport. Rather than seeing these subjects as separate, we know that they work best in conjunction with one another, to encourage the growth of creative intelligence across all disciplines.

We are making our learning spaces even more conducive to the growth of creative intelligence as we re-develop our school site. State of the art academic learning areas for the Primary and Senior schools will be complemented by inspirational facilities for sport and the performing and creative arts. Our school design reflects the hallmarks of traditional British education: strong academics, alongside healthy sport, inspirational art and abundant opportunities for student leadership and independence. These traits are what much of the world, including China and countries of south-east Asia, are now hungry for.

Creativity allows for self-expression, an integral part of the educational experience.

Every year I am amazed at the creativity of our students. For example last year, Tessa Kolster one of our Sixth Form students, wrote a beautiful song to end our innovative production of Shakespeare’s ‘The Tempest.’ This year I was delighted to be asked to write the foreword to a wonderful collection of poems written by Rishika Singh, another one of our Sixth Form students, and her mother, Shail. It will quickly become clear to anyone reading this collection of poems that these are unique works of art.

For me, the highlight of the collection has to be the final poem, ‘Indulgent Prize,’ where Rishika captures her love and appreciation for Oman, where she has lived for twelve years. She writes of Oman being a land where “home comes to you without going home” and where “every belief stands on pillars of love and respect.”

I would urge anyone interested in poetry to read this delightful and engaging collection of work. Thoughtfully illustrated by another of our Sixth Form students, Alexandra Gili, ‘Duet’ represents the collaborative and creative approach to learning that we are so keen to encourage at our school.

Through investment in our musical provision in Key Stage 2 and 3, every child plays a brass instrument, allowing for and encouraging musical creativity from a young age. Further up the school, our fully-inclusive drama production of ‘The Mad Hatter and Alice’ involved over 100 students from Year 5 to Year 13 this year. Staff and students have collaborated on the inspirational show, writing the script, the songs, the music, and choreographing the dances.

From music to poetry to theatre: everyday at BSM I am proud to see direct proof of the environment we have created here that allows and encourages so many different beautiful expressions of creativity.

British School Muscat’s performance of the Mad Hatter and Alice, January 2019


Creativity is as essential to the real world as it is to our school life

Making our students best for the world is our goal at BSM. Our approach to growing creative intelligence, backed by leading edge research and supported by our award-winning curriculum and inspiring learning spaces, encourage and promote creative thinking in all our students.

School can often be seen as a place that stifles creativity, rather than encouraging it, but this could not be more true for BSM. Songs created, music performed, poetry written and plays performed; the daily examples of creative expression in our school are endless.

Creative intelligence is so vital in our school life because it is so vital in all of life: when we say we are making our students best for the world, this means we have to understand what that world is. We know that growing creative intelligence lies at the centre of it, just as it lies at the centre of BSM.