Student Guest Post: The Value of Creativity in the Classroom

Heading off to university, the most common question I’d get asked was “oh what are you studying?” When I told everyone what it was, I would get the obligatorily puzzled, but upbeat response “Oh. That sounds…great!”

I was off to get a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production, which hardly seemed a mainstream subject to head to university for. I soon learned I wasn’t just off to study something I was passionate about, I was setting out to gain skills and face challenges that demanded problem solving, and creative solutions.

This past summer George Anders wrote in Forbes about the growing demand for the so-called “useless” liberal arts degrees. You’ll hear quite often on campus the talk of getting skills beyond your degree, getting work outside of your university experience to prepare you for the real world and so on. With everything in life going digital, virtual, and faster-than-light streaming (almost), it’s becoming more and more necessary to tackle challenges with a creative perspective.

Leading meetings, completing group work, and engaging an audience are all key parts of an arts degree. These skills are people focused, and this is what makes them so relevant today. Technology, communication, and people are interwoven more than ever in the modern workplace. Having the ability to build rapport with others is just as valuable and essential as being technically gifted, because while you learn how to work with a computer system, learning how to work with the systems of people is just as dynamic a challenge.

When I applied to be a Prezi Ambassador in my sophomore year, I saw exactly how such a creative tool could enable others to learn a more creative approach to communicating--to tackle work in a way that I had been learning all this time through my degree.

I’ve learned that people don’t want to be taught to work differently–they want to be inspired to. This fantastic quote really sums this up to me – “They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel” (Carl W. Buehner). On campus I immediately got the sense of expectation that my audience had when I presented a Prezi workshop, and I saw just how key my learning experiences have been to preparing me for such a real world challenge.

As a Prezi Ambassador I learned how to channel this into organizing grassroots marketing campaigns from scratch, creating successful visual stories in my prezis, with my work going on to be recognized across campus by senior lecturers and professional departments. Learning these social skills is a crucial part of university and of any degree, and by combining that with being a Prezi Ambassador I saw first-hand that creativity should certainly be part of everyone’s classroom.

About the author: James Hipkiss is a Prezi Ambassador Alumni, and a senior studying Film Production at University of Gloucestershire in the U.K. He is currently a Student Ambassador for his University and is on an action team organizing a digital skills conference next January, where he plans to give a keynote speech. In his spare time he plays badminton at University, surfs, and regularly takes up volunteer work abroad.