FUN TIMES AHEAD

Nurturing life­long cre­ativ­ity be­gins with se­ri­ous play.

The Peak (Singapore) - - Contents -

Ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum’s The Fu­ture of Jobs Re­port, cre­ativ­ity is the third-most im­por­tant skill – af­ter com­plex prob­lem-solv­ing and crit­i­cal think­ing – work­ers need to pos­sess if they are to thrive in the fu­ture econ­omy. Against a back­drop of busi­nesses pow­ered by ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and ad­vanced ro­bot­ics, the abil­ity of hu­mans to dream up in­no­va­tive solutions has be­come more vi­tal than ever.

Cre­ativ­ity, how­ever, is not a qual­ity that can be cul­ti­vated via rote learn­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Es­ther Joosa, direc­tor of ped­a­gogy at in­de­pen­dent chil­dren’s char­ity Playeum, the act of play is in it­self a con­duit for cre­ativ­ity, es­pe­cially if a child is ex­posed to it at an early age. Over at Playeum’s Chil­dren’s Cen­tre for Cre­ativ­ity, par­tic­i­pants from the age of one toy with in­ter­ac­tive set-ups free from any rules of en­gage­ment, save for oc­ca­sional prompts such as: “Can you build this in an­other way? How far can you go with this?”

Leav­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties ope­nended to let imag­i­na­tion come to the fore is a de­lib­er­ate ap­proach taken by the cen­tre. “Play is mov­ing beyond bound­aries,” says the 61-year-old Joosa, an ed­u­ca­tor with more than 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence in de­vel­op­ing cre­ative pro­grammes for chil­dren. “We de­velop an en­vi­ron­ment that is psy­cho­log­i­cally safe and in­spires new thought. When these chil­dren get older, they will be peo­ple who aren’t afraid to ex­per­i­ment. Our main fo­cus is to erase bar­ri­ers, to ex­pose them to the idea of flex­i­bil­ity, be­fore they are con­fined to a struc­tured ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem for the next 18 years.”

In­cul­cat­ing the spirit of play in chil­dren ap­pears to have a last­ing im­pact on the adults of tomorrow. As Joosa high­lights, Nordic coun­tries such as Swe­den, Den­mark and Fin­land, which fea­ture play­time as a big part of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem, have emerged as top per­form­ers in the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s 2015 In­no­va­tion Union Score­board. Given these re­sults, per­haps it’s time to take play­time more se­ri­ously.

ES­THER JOOSA Direc­tor of ped­a­gogy, Playeum

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