By Glorife Samodio
More than a decade ago, education expert Ken Robinson posed this controversial question in a TED talk: “Do schools kill creativity?” He observed how educational institutions are being run based on outdated paradigms which influence students to merely conform and memorize lessons. Fast forward to the present: we in the academe still ask ourselves if we are still “killing” our students’ creativity, especially here in the Philippines. Scholars and industry practitioners have already identified creativity as one of the 21st century “literacies” and skills needed by young people. They believe that if academic institutions are serious in preparing students for the real world, educational systems must also be reformed to center on building creativity, and to keep up with the demands of today’s active learners. In the US and the UK, the concept of the “creative campus” emerged.
Scholars and advocates of creativity from the University of Alabama define creative campuses as those that allow students to experience creativity and sharpen the skills needed in today’s knowledge-based economy. Such campuses emphasize the value of fresh ideas and nurturing relationships. Unfortunately, in the Philippines, only a few institutions give premium to creativity. For some, creativity may be part of their organizations’ vision and mission statements and strategies, but is not practiced in the day-to-day operations, nor supported through infrastructure and institutional policies. This is the reality for most educational institutions in the country, especially those that do not offer tracks or courses engaged in the creative and cultural industries.
On the other hand, there are now attempts from the government sector to emphasize creativity in the fields of business and education. The Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022 includes directions on advancing Filipino creativity and ensuring that learners can appreciate the importance of inventiveness and creativity. In the discussions during the Asean Creative Cities Forum 2017, experts expressed the need for more relevant engagements between the academe and the industry in terms of cultivating creativity among the younger generation, as the region pushes for the development of a sustainable creative ecosystem.
In recent years, the Asean youth has greatly contributed to the booming of the creative industries in the region. As a result of various efforts in the formal and non-formal modes of education, Asean youth channeled their creative talents in coming up with highly marketable products and services in animation, film making, game design and mobile app design. With these prospects in the creative industry, the education sector in several Asean countries responded to ensure the relevance of their curricula with industry practices, while aspiring to foster the artistic skills of the youth and inculcating the mastery of various cultural expressions.
In the Philippines, the National Commission on Culture and the Arts came up with the Philippine Cultural Education Program in 2003. In recent years, the educational system has shifted to K-12, which brought about the enhancement of the culture and arts curricula. This provided more opportunities for young artists to hone their talents, with the Special Program for the Arts, and the Arts and Design track for senior high school. This was coupled by the efforts of the Technical Education Skills Development Authority, and some colleges and universities with their culture and arts-related course offerings.
With these trends, the case for our educational institutions to provide conducive environments that incubate their students’ creativity has become more imminent. Academe-based creativity and cultural programs should be planned and implemented vis-à-vis the vision, policies and programs of the government to create greater socio-economic impact. The application of creativity on the academic and co-academic programs should now be clearly observed in campus; campus infrastructures should reflect—aside from its expected function—the spirit of innovation and artistry. Institutional culture should espouse diversity, collaboration and openness to failure.
To further establish the culture of creativity in educational institutions, cross-disciplinary works and student artist-faculty partnerships should be encouraged. The perspective of fusing disciplines, such as science and art, are now becoming a norm in academe-based researches, discussions and even in artistic productions. Inter-disciplinary concepts have lately elicited interest and discourse from academics, convincing them to be more open for partnerships with co-academic sectors in generating ideas for projects and researches. However, support is needed from academic administrators to inspire these types of endeavors.
Building a creative campus environment is a herculean task, as it involves the proper grounding and education of all the stakeholders on the value of creativity in our lives—from school administrators, teachers, staff, students and even parents. Unless we consciously change our paradigms and take serious action in the academic sector, we will all be guilty of continuously killing the creativity of the Filipino youth and the possibilities of an innovative future for our country.
Glorife Samodio is a Doctor of Business Administration student of De La Salle University, where she also serves as director of the Culture and Arts Office. She is the founding president of the Association of Cultural Offices in Philippine Educational Institutions Inc. For comments or reactions, she may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.