April 15th marked the start of World Creativity and Innovation Week, a growing movement that celebrates…well, world creativity and innovation. How many of us in the ad industry knew that? Not enough I suspect.
On a day-to-day basis we operate in an environment with creativity firmly at its core, yet I’ll venture the majority of our people think almost exclusively about creativity in terms of its intersection with our clients’ brands and businesses. No bad thing, of course, since it’s what we’re paid to do. But if we take a step back for a moment, it’s probably apparent to most that as an industry we’re uniquely placed to have a significant voice on the value of creativity in a broader sense; uniquely placed to fight for creativity to be recognised and nurtured as a universal, powerful and transformative attribute of humankind, one which fosters societal well-being and contributes to the development of dynamic economies – as well as ultimately unlocking intellectual capital for businesses.
Let’s start at the beginning – schooling. There is a growing consensus among academics, researchers and policy makers that revisiting creativity in education is of paramount importance. That as the venerable Sir Ken Robinson puts it, creativity today is as important in education as literacy and society should treat it with the same status; that imaginative play, creativity and curiosity are the fundaments for learning. And that somehow these vital elements of the schooling process have at best been abandoned over time, or at worst overlooked completely from the get go.
But while the consensus around these facts is growing, not much is yet being done to address things. While the UK might not be as far behind as our friends in France, there is still so much progress to be made with regard to the national curriculum. The US is meanwhile taking steps in the right direction – next month, a distinguished group of cognitive scientists, psychologists and innovative educators will gather before 1,200 educators at the Learning & the Brain conference in Florida, to explore the science behind childhood imagination, creativity and curiosity and how they can collectively transform schools, classrooms and learning.
Given our pronouncements on creativity as an industry, a question in my mind for ad agencies, and businesses more broadly, is how can we help support the advancement of creativity in education. One creative (and astonishingly successful) company that’s put its money where its mouth is, is Lego. Its foundation is now focused on revamping education approaches to try to shift a dynamic that, as they see it, focuses on quality of learning through uniformity – mainly by incorporating structured, hands-on play that fosters creative thinking in the class room.
In 2013 The Lego Foundation opened its own international school in Billund, next door to the company’s headquarters in Denmark, where they are today rigorously testing and measuring some of these ideas by incorporating "hands-on learning" into the curriculum wherever possible – with Lego bricks, but also with other toys, building materials and even robotics technologies.
At our agency, Crispin Porter & Bogusky London, we are looking at how we can play a useful role in helping creativity in its broadest sense be recognised and nurtured as the powerful attribute of humankind it is. Meanwhile I am moving my kids to the Billund school as soon as I can, enabling hopefully a more creative lifestyle for them, one block at a time, as they grow up. Hands up: who else would like to see a Lego school in the UK some time soon?
Richard Pinder is the UK and international chief executive at Crispin Porter & Bogusky.