Creativity and inventive thinking should be part of curriculum


A new report by BT has uncovered several key challenges that need to be tackled to secure Britain’s inventive future and argues that creativity and inventive thinking should be part of the national school curriculum.

BT’s study, which involved more than 2,000 adults and 1,000 12 to 16 year-olds, found that invention needs to be more mainstream and accessible.

Among adults, an inventor is perceived as a genius (65 per cent) scientist or engineer (64 per cent), who is hard-working (41 per cent) and male (37 per cent). Amongst children surveyed, the idea of the male (37 per cent) scientist or engineer (58 per cent) as a typical inventor dominates as well – although geekiness (39 per cent) and a bit of craziness (38 per cent) also apply. Almost two-thirds of children (64 per cent) and nearly half of adults (49 per cent) believe that the most important inventions are made by great scientists, engineers or geniuses.

To help budding inventive pupils to flourish, the report recommends that creativity and inventive thinking should be part of the national school curriculum – a notion supported by over two-thirds (68 per cent) of adults. It also recommends changing perceptions of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects: a fifth of girls (21 per cent) said that making it more socially acceptable for them to do these subjects would encourage them to be more inventive or even become an inventor.

Other findings of the research include:

  • Women are more likely than men to doubt their inventiveness, and girls are more likely than boys to do the same. Over two-thirds of women (69 per cent) say they aren’t inventive, compared with 58 per cent of men. Women are much more likely than men to say they don’t want to be inventive – 29 per cent compared to 18 per cent, respectively.
  • Almost half of girls (49 per cent) say they aren’t inventive, compared with 42 per cent of boys. Boys (21 per cent) are more likely than girls (13 per cent) to want to be inventors when they grow up.
  • As pupils move through secondary school they are less likely to consider themselves inventive thinkers. Although more than half of 12 year-olds (54 per cent) consider themselves inventive people, under a third (32 per cent) of 16 year-olds think the same – just above the adult average of 31 per cent.
  • Only just over half of UK adults (58 per cent) and close to one-third of UK children (32 per cent) can correctly name a British inventor. Alexander Graham Bell was by far the most popular answer, followed by James Dyson, John Logie Baird, James Watt and George Stephenson.
  • The top five character traits to have to be a successful inventor are creative (70%), problem-solver (69%), determined (64%), curious (62%) and resourceful (61%). Kids (30 per cent) are more likely than adults (22 per cent) to see inventors as cool.
  • Highlighting the hunger amongst adults and kids for more inventiveness, the research found that two in five (40 per cent) adults and 34 per cent of children don’t consider themselves inventive people, but want to be.
  • Pointing the way towards a better inventive future, 69 per cent of adults agreed that we need a greater focus on inventing for social good, and 71 per cent felt that it’s more important than ever to work together to invent solutions collectively.
School Leadership Today