The words are easy to write - creative learning, the joy of learning, life-long learning. The challenge is to make them real and embed them in the heart of a school. We think we have succeeded at BCS, but we need to convince you. It is easy to recognise creativity in some contexts, such as creative art and creative writing. For example. BCS pupils took up the challenge set by the British Council as part of its LearnEnglish initiative, and captured their creative writing as a mini-saga, a story told in 50 words exactly - not 49 and not 51.
Camping: a mini-saga
Sleeping in my tent, vivid dreams flashing through my mind. Tents blowing across fields, rolling down mountains, washed away.
When I awoke, I felt exhausted. Unzipping my tent I noticed I was in water. The only thing saving me was the airbed floating like a boat. Was it a dream?
Their ingenuity in crafting stories that had structure, content, tension and denouement in such a small span won considerable success, and five BCS pupils had their stories published in the resulting Southern Anthology. Two are shown on this page, and the other three appear elsewhere on the web site.
The creative arts also conventionally encompass "art" itself, as in painting, collage and sculpture. Self-expression is easy to find here, as is a growing confidence as pupils explore these various media. And as with story publishing and public speaking, there is a confidence inherent in the willingness to exhibit your work: it may be self-expression, but we encourage pupils to share the ideas that they express.
The music at BCS is also inspirational, and quite amazingly inclusive. You don't have to be an expert in order to sense the joy that performance brings - though many pupils who start out as casual participants do find themselves becoming experts through their years at BCS. What is obvious is that in this context, as in so many, creative learning really does trigger the joy of learning: the surge of pride and satisfaction when a new idea is born or a new skill suddenly comes right after the slog of repeated practice. Learning is fun, and the same is true of creativity, but it does not have to be easy - and when success comes, there is every justification for celebrating it.
Academy of Magic: a mini-saga
Today the wizard has been testing a new spell. It is something that makes people smaller. People have been chosen to test it and not all of them come out again. I am so scared that I will be the next to go in and not come out . . .
And perhaps that is the key to creativity: it is born of the effort to innovate, to move ahead, get out of the box, to express your own feelings or develop your own ideas and approaches - it really doesn't matter what language we use. Creativity is amazing! It's fun but it's often tough - and it is in no way limited to the Arts. If we really rejoice in creative learning, and really value the joy of learning, then we must - and at BCS we do - seek it everywhere. In the lab and the ICT suite not just in the music or art room: outdoors not just indoors. There is no monopoly on creativity. A scientific experiment must be ruthlessly rigorous if it is to be reliable - but the hypothesis that it is testing will often be the pure product of creative thinking. A mathematical solution will doubtless follow conventional logic, but the approach it takes will be personal and innovative. The humanities advance behind the lead offered by evidence, but the interpretation and the implications need to fly free if they are genuinely to take us forwards.
"There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource
of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would
be forever repeating the same patterns." Edward de Bono
In all of this, we are laying the foundations for the joy of learning, the realisation that what you achieve at school can be tough and fun at the same time, and the tougher the path the more satisfying the achievement. Are we likely to see this emblazoned on the Facebook and MySpace sites of our pupils? Probably not! Youth culture is not given to outpourings of joy at the gift of hard work! But at BCS we are dedicated to nurturing these values in our pupils, and to celebrating with them (privately, if necessary) when they tap into the source of satisfaction that learning can bring. We see it in their writing, their art, their ideas and expressions. We see it in the personal statements of our Oxbridge candidates, and we hear it in the mock interviews that we hold with them. And once it is embedded to that degree, then we have a good chance that the joy of learning will underpin a dedication to life-long learning - that is what BCS and United Learning are about.
"Learning is fun, but it does not have to be easy."