Why creative learning matters: A perspective from big kid, Shreya
March 22, 2019
Shreya’s one of the big kids at Saturday Kids who manages Code in the Community – a Google-sponsored programme that brings free digital literacy classes to kids from lower-income families – and is part of the launch team for our new product for kids, the Explorer Pass. Also a passionate bharatanatyam & odissi dancer and part-time teacher, she shares her perspective here on why creative learning matters.
Looking back on my journey in school now, beyond gaining reading, writing and basic math skills, very few of the things I learnt in class from age 7-18 really prepared me for adulthood and working life.
Things really changed for me in university – I was forced to become more of a self-directed learner.
No one was spoon-feeding me anymore. None of my lecturers really cared if I showed up for lectures or not. If I wanted to do well, I’d have to put some effort into studying and working outside of the classroom. I felt like the last 12 years of my life had almost been a lie, and I struggled for almost 5 years, learning things I felt I should have/could have been taught at an earlier age. The fear of failure at that stage was always staring me in my face, and I pretty much graduated from university wishing things had been different.
Shreya at her bharatanatyam arangetram (debut performance)
Most of the things I know today, I learnt from my love for reading, through dance, and by participating in extracurricular activities.
At Saturday Kids, we believe kids learn best when they are engaged, and there’s no better way to keep kids engaged than by letting them have fun – that’s why our learning philosophy and pedagogy are deeply rooted in purposeful play and creativity. The term “creativity” is often used with reference to artistic endeavours, but that’s not all it should be limited to.
Even coding, traditionally thought to be all about numbers, logical thinking and staring at a computer screen, can be creative. From composing music to creating interactive art, there’s lots of ways kids can learn to express themselves & channel their creativity through a medium like coding. For example, at our new Explorer Pass sessions, building on only a basic knowledge of Scratch, kids will get to create their very own chatbots, a beatbox programme, and so much more.
What I wish more people understood is that learning can also be a place for creativity & self-expression, and kids will learn better that way as well.
Through Explorer Pass, we want to provide kids a platform to creatively express themselves because we’ve witnessed how empowering it is when a child takes charge of their own learning, and becomes intrinsically motivated to learn through constant tinkering, experimenting, building and making.
Here are a few of my favourite stories of our kids who’ve taken their skills and ran with them, drawing inspiration from their own experiences to create something bigger than themselves:
Isabel, one of the creative kids who inspire us!
Our youngest ever Teaching Assistant, Isabel continued tinkering with Scratch after attending our holiday camp last year, and built a game inspired by her everyday life. She coded an animation based on her pet dwarf hamster, Cheddar and made a cartoon about him and his adventures – taking something she knew and turning it into a project that expressed what she felt for her pet.
A student at our mobile app camp last year, Caleb identified a pressing problem his grandfather faced: because he and his brothers went to different schools, his grandfather struggled to plan the route to pick them up. So Caleb built his own Family Uber app to help his Granddad to plot his route on Google Maps without having to individually key in the location and fiddle around on Google Maps every time. Caleb made an app that was genuinely helpful to his grandfather; identified a problem his grandfather was facing and built an app to address it.
Sean was introduced to coding through Code in the Community. After the program, he was inspired to learn new coding skills on his own and was offered a seat at our Python camp. Because he had learnt so much on his own, he was way more advanced than the rest of the class. His curious nature allowed him to come up with interesting ways to help the other kids in the class understand the coding concepts being taught.
If we believe that the future belongs to our kids, equipping them with not just the skills but the right values and mindsets to approach the increased challenges of being someone in today’s world will be more valuable than ever. That includes getting kids curious, and asking not just the whys, but also the why nots.
Curious kids have more fun!
We were all born curious (you just have to look at the little ones around you), but ironically many of us unlearn it as we grow into adulthood.
That is why the core of our work is to get kids curious, inventive and resourceful. We believe that with curiosity, kids will become intrinsically motivated to learn, and from that intrinsic motivation comes creativity and imagination – skills that these kids will inevitably need to navigate and to change the world (for the better).
At the core of it, we’re all kids – big or little – who could use a little more creativity in our lives.
Take some time today to reflect on how you could add a bit of creativity and fun to your daily life. Write a little poem, draw a little picture or take a photo of something completely random… expressing creativity isn’t something that will make just your kids happier, it’s something small that can help you be happier as well.
At Saturday Kids, we’re on a mission to make kids curious, self-directed learners. Through this series of articles, we hope to create conversations around what real learning means. If you have any comments or feedback or just want to chat over a coffee, drop us an email at [email protected]!