Finding Creativity Every Day

I consider myself lucky enough to lead a school in which we are all about finding creativity every day. We do a lot to support the full and rounded development of children in terms of their intellect, their sense of self and others and their hands on skills. In practice this means that, within our curriculum, we focus as much on handicrafts as we do on traditionally ‘academic subjects’, and as much on the ‘academic subjects’ as we do on the creative ones.

This lack of balance in my childhood experience of education has had a direct and unfortunate impact on my own creativity. I was a keen artist as a child but gave up quite easily on crafting projects, I was also hugely academic and found book work easy. I was never encouraged to view these parcels of the curriculum as connected. Thus, rather than finding an ease and a creativity in the flow between artistic, crafting and academic realms I ended up operating in a fairly binary manner. I was very comfortable within certain artistic subjects but I rejected many as I was pushed to develop my intellect.

This polarisation of creative vs academic is very reductive and in my latter years it has really stopped me from venturing into areas that I don’t feel I should enter. I certainly feel I am the imposter in artistic circles and yet, for my entire life, I have been so attracted to these arenas.

What I know for sure is that I am one of life’s dreamers and collectors and while I have never credited this collecting and dreaming as as creative work, I think it just might be. In fact, right here and now I am putting it out there that I am a creative curator. I curate for my sense of an artistic life and, despite what others may have you believe about the difference between doing and talking about doing, I see this creative curation as vital to my success in exploring ideas, thinking widely and freely and then delivering on exciting and hitherto unthought of projects.

I first got into creative curation when I started vision boarding. I felt the expanse of my dreams and the clarity of my vision in the process of curating images that called to me. Vision boarding soon became my go to process at the start of a project or when I felt the need to establish lasting change in my life. My current job was one that I made real through the process of vision boarding. Indeed, many of my old vision boards speak of the range of opportunities and experiences I have created for myself.

My work spaces have often demonstrated my passion for creative curation. They have been designed to facilitate the very process of creative curation. For me, and for many teachers I know, there is a necessity to surround oneself with beautiful objets that inspire one to draw into being creative projects. I have had lovely desks filled with all manner of beautiful notebooks into which I have dreamed, note taken and envisioned lovely things. I am known for a small obsession with stationery of all kinds and this is not for the sake of hoarding. Rather these tiny papery pieces of beauty represent the tangible opportunity for creativity. In curating a collection, I make the possibility of many, many artistic projects real.

When I had my son and found that reading was a luxury that I no longer had the time for I started to curate a wonderful collection of audiobooks. These, I treat as though artefacts in my own museum. The multi-passionate that I am loves this approach to life. I am a person who is very happy with a half finished, quarter finished or merely dipped into book. I am at ease with a fluidity that allows a particular moment of a book or article, an image, or an artefact to have useful meaning in that particular moment. I can’t count the number of times that I have stopped an episode of one of the podcasts that I subscribe to, moved on to something else, only to start again where I left off days or weeks later and find that it is speaking to my exact situation.

What I am trying to say is that my creative curation has no end point or purpose, its sum is lots of interesting and lovely things and many abandoned and never realised ideas and projects. It is entirely unnecessary in some ways and utterly vital in others. After viewing (or listening to) thirty ‘artefacts’ I may come up with 10 projects and realise none. But, that there is creative juice coursing through my veins makes me snap at the heels of my day job in such a colourful way that I now recognise this effort as vital. My approach to creativity feels to be one that occupies a liminal space. We are so taken with linearity, with binaries, with clarity, with ending what we have begun, that we often fail to make time for the unnecessary messing around that colours everything else in so vividly.

One of the reasons for me writing the book ‘The Nourished Teacher’ is to challenge the types of creativity we feel are available to us as school teachers and educators. My hope is that the book sounds a note that reminds us we are all creatives, no matter our field. I hope it underscores that creativity is a state that we can all lay claim to and one we must never undermine or extinguish, for it is in our every day creative moments that magic is born.

If you are interested in the idea of unnecessary creating it is really worth checking out Todd Henry’s podcast here: