Whilst working in the Kimberley region working on RTO training and staying at a stock camp some months back, I realised some important aspects of our lives are missing. The peace and tranquillity of the beautiful green in the Kimberley, the contrasting red earth and stunning shapes allow me to stop and think and reflect.
Creativity, innovation, thinking outside the square are being squashed by schools, by workplaces and it is taking the effect of an unused muscle, it is being squashed so hard that we forget to use them. The thoughts came when I was driving from the stock camp each day into my allotted location, I would pass a group of individual trees, or perhaps shrubs, along the roadside. These shrubs don’t have any significance, other than every time I looked at them I found little creatures within them. The creatures were camels, or giant coachroaches, a mouse scurrying off with some stolen food, a bird diving down upon an insect. The creatures aren’t real, but they are in my head, and they brought a smile to my face each day as the shapes conjured up different images. I wished my family was with me, so I could share the excitement with them – and I know they would see other creatures as well. It is a wonderful thing to let your creative juices flow, to embrace them and allow you to enjoy.
Fun and play
As a consultant working with Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) I get to have fun, and enjoy some awesome places. I know as a consultant working with Standards that don’t spell out the way you need to work clearly, the creativity allows me to assist people to think outside the square, and still meet compliance. This is what I love about working in my space. Earlier this week I heard a report on TV about a British film maker who has embarked on making a film to get his children out of the house, away from the technological enticements within the house. His theory was children today no longer go outside to play, which brings about fears of strangers, bugs, dirt and other such things that stop them from playing outside. It’s a vicious circle.
We fear playing outside, so we don’t go, which makes the fear greater. So no creative play at home, and in the classroom the term “play” is now called “unstructured play!”. Goodness me isn’t it just “play”? Play is unstructured, it is creative and it creates learning in itself. It has been shown to allow peace to settle in the children and reduce behavioural issues. It also reduces stress, improves self-esteem, self-confidence and the ability to think outside of a structured environment, all valuable attributes for an adult.
Listening to ideas
The report got me thinking about play and how the lack of it is influencing, or has influenced our society. It wasn’t a thought that I embraced. As you can tell, I love my play, imagination and creativity. So when I am up against people who make it hard for me and don’t allow me to use my creativity I find the going very tough. I can recall many times at being frustrated by small-minded, rule-obsessed managers who can’t see the innovations that could help their organisation dramatically. These managers literally can’t see them, and are not willing to listen to ideas. That is probably one of the reasons I become a consultant, so I could embrace my creative ideas, and use them to assist people along the way. In a way, all of this leads me back to my passion of adult learning, and how we can make the classroom learning, or the online learning more fun and allow the creativity to come through.
By being proactive with the learning process, we may be able to influence the creativity in the workplace; in a positive way. ‘Play,’ is often referred to ‘what one does for pure enjoyment’, and is often contrasted with ‘work, or what one does from necessity’. During work people often become bogged down with this dichotomy. Not being able to be creative, or enjoy what they are doing. This often results in stress and unhappiness at work. By adding some play into the workplace you could reduce stress, tension and increase enjoyment. So if we can get some more play into the workplace then people might be able to find satisfaction in the work which needs to be done, which makes for a way happier workplace. It allows a measure of maturity and real understanding of life to take place, along with other benefits such as allowing people to constantly searching for another way. These creative people keep their brains from being locked into standard patterns, and bring about creative innovative thinking. Sure this may annoy and frustrate more linear thinkers; however a way that often brings results, faster and easier.
In the VET sector
So if we as VET trainers can assist in getting creative thinking happening in our classrooms or training sessions, then perhaps in our own little way we can allow workplaces to embrace it as well. Creative learning is not just for kids, it is for adults too. Use games, use fun activities that the student can take away empowering messages from. Games invariably involve individuals or teams, and require either physical activity or mental activity – even the most physical game demands some strategic thinking from players. Games bring great skills to each individual especially strategic thinking skills. Think about it, games are a fundamental part of human existence. They are an inseparable part of life, and are transmitted from culture to culture, from generation to generation, from family to family, and from person to person. Different cultures and different social classes prefer to play different types of games and different modifications of the games. Let’s play them, and allow learning to happen along the way. And whilst you are travelling to the classroom, perhaps allow yourself each day to laugh at some amazing creatures you might invent along the journey.