Creative thinking

Over the past year, creative thinking has been a particular focus for programme development at Envision. We’ve also been collaborating with others to explore this increasingly valued skill.

This summer our CEO, Jennie Butterworth, helped to shape an enquiry led by the Royal Society of Arts into the mutually re-enforcing relationship between creativity and youth social action.

A national survey conducted as part of the research project found that young people who have had the opportunity to shape the social action they have participated in perceive themselves to be more creative. The resulting report Teenagency says that it is hard to know whether the young people sought out these opportunities as part of the social action as a result of being creative individuals or whether they became more creative as a result of these opportunities. The focus groups which formed part of the project revealed examples of both.

Regardless of where this virtuous cycle begins, the report claims that that the relationship between creativity and social action is most powerful when four conditions are met: first when young people are allowed to identify the problem they want to address; second when they are allowed to come up with their own solutions; third when they are able to lead the response to the problem; and fourth, when they are encouraged to reflect on the impact of what they have achieved.

Whilst young people welcome the opportunity to shape the social action they are involved with, less than a quarter who have volunteered have had the chance to select the problem they want to solve. Most importantly, the research finds that the opportunity to engage in this sort of social action is particularly important for young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, who may not get the same chances for personal development in other parts of their lives. It concludes that schools are particularly important in achieving this given that parents of young people from more disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to encourage their children to participate in social action.

Read the full report here.