The Role of the Arts in Education — Examining the Purposes of Creativity in Education

Conference: The Asian Undergraduate Research Symposium (AURS2021)
Title: The Role of the Arts in Education — Examining the Purposes of Creativity in Education
Stream: Education
Presentation Type: Virtual Poster Presentation
Chuying Wu, University College London, United Kingdom


The role of the arts in education is often underscored in knowledge-rich curricula. This is because, given the increasingly neoliberal practices in education, the arts are seldom perceived as directly contributing to the standardized form of knowledge and higher school grades. However, through reflecting on the purposes of creativity, this paper argues that the arts can confer a more transformative and active form of education than the mere presence of standardized knowledge. The paper first argues that knowledge-rich curricula often view creativity as mere problem-solving, such as solving math problems. This notion of creativity is challenged since it may run the risk of restricting the purpose of education to raising productivity in the capitalistic society. By critically analyzing Maxine Greene’s and Kieran Egan’s philosophical works, the paper then suggests an alternative understanding to creativity, which calls for greater social goods and personal sense-making. On a social level, Greene’s works envisage a more transformative use of creativity by showing its possibility in the reconstruction of social orders, such as breaking down social prejudice. On a personal level, Egan’s works fill a dimension that Greene does not focus on — the active use of creativity for meaning-making. Finally, by examining arts education, the paper argues that the arts have the very potential in bringing about this newly proposed understanding of creativity, constructing a more transformative and active mode of education.

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