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How to creatively transform education

23 September 2019
Together with external creative arts and education powerhouses, University of Sydney academics aim to embed creativity in curricula so that students become 21st Century-ready

Although research unequivocally argues that creativity and quality arts experiences should be at the centre of education, this potential has yet to be realised in schools and other places of learning. This is the mission of the new Creativity in Research, Engaging the Arts, Transforming Education (CREATE) Centre. 

To be launched by award-winning playwright and artistic director of the Sydney Festival, Wesley Enoch, later today, the Centre – which builds on more than a decade of in-house research and outreach – will be a hub of research, advocacy and action. 

Led by Professor of Teacher Education and the Arts Robyn Ewing and Professor Michael Anderson, both of the Sydney School of Education and Social Work, it will emphasise the centrality of creativity and the arts – literary, performing, visual and media – to learning. 

Institutions that will work in partnership with the CREATE Centre include Sydney Theatre Company; Diversity Arts; Bell Shakespeare; WestWords, Sydney Opera House; the NSW Art Gallery, Museum of Contemporary Art; Milk Crate Theatre; Sydney Writer’s Festival; and a host of national and international schools and universities. 

Such practitioners, as well as policymakers, will collaborate with Centre academics from a range of fields – education; performance studies; medicine and health; literature; art; business; music; and Indigenous language learning among them.


“It is critical now that we create dynamic places and spaces for imaginative learning and ensure our young people are equipped for both our current challenges and those that lie ahead,” Professor Ewing said. 

“For example, recent Deloitte Australia research suggests that re-imagining how we prepare for the world of work – and equipping our future workers with interpersonal skills and creativity – could contribute $36 billion to our economy.” 

“Perhaps more critically, a shift to place creativity and the arts at the centre of learning could make our schools, universities and other places of learning exciting and vibrant places to be,” Professor Anderson adds. 

“When you introduce creativity into schools, a world of possibility opens up. Teachers begin to innovate in learning and teaching and the whole environment can change. 

“Creativity and creative practices also develop resilience, resourcefulness, and confidence. Research has shown that creativity has a positive effect on student motivation and can facilitate social change, particularly among at-risk young people. Yet the current way we ‘do’ school does not prioritise learning, rather, it has been dominated by finite games such as NAPLAN scores and ATARs.” 

The Centre’s outputs will be shared with educational and cultural institutions and organisations (including galleries, libraries, museums, and theatre companies), as well as the community more broadly. 

Header image credit: Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

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