A new “artist residency programme” is to be established in schools to give students a chance to work on creative projects with established painters, designers, actors and musicians.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said the new initiative forms part of a broader plan to nurture creativity among children and young people in education at a time when these qualities have "never been more important".
She was speaking at a youth conference organised by Creative Ireland, a five-year Government programme which aims to connects people, creativity and wellbeing.
Ms Foley said creative thinking is increasingly vital for young people and wider society.
“Creativity in its simplest form is pure magic. It is not just putting paint on paper or assembling together chosen words,” she said.
She said her department’s new artist residency programme will give pupils in schools countrywide the opportunity to work with a professional artist on projects designed to inspire “tomorrow’s brilliant young actors, musicians and artists”.
The conference also heard from key figures in education, enterprise, innovation and creativity including Andreas Schleicher of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Prof Anne Looney of Dublin City University's Institute of Education, author Roddy Doyle and Prof Linda Doyle, Provost-elect of Trinity College Dublin.
Dr Schleicher said international studies, such as the Pisa league tables of international educational achievement, indicates that the Irish education system can learn from creative approaches being used in Nordic and some southeast Asian countries.
He said these systems were open and flexible in exploring different ways to create “amazing learning environments”.
Dr Schleicher also said creativity was key in fostering “growth mindsets” among students and boosting their sense of wellbeing.
What did the Taoiseach say?
Also speaking at the conference, Taoiseach Micheál Martin highlighted the impact that creative activity can have on the lives of young people.
“At the heart of the Creative Ireland vision is that every person has creative capacities that should be encouraged throughout their lives,” he said.
“Promoting this creativity not only benefits our wellbeing . . . [but] is about working toward a society which enables the innate creativity of all our young people to flourish – to support them in their education, their homes, their communities and their futures.”
Minister for Arts Catherine Martin said the pandemic meant there could not be better time to reflect on the Creative Youth plan, but also to look to the future.
“To consider not only the challenges but also the opportunities that lie ahead, as we strive to provide better, more inclusive opportunities for young people to discover, nurture and celebrate their own creative potential,” she said.
She said the conference was an opportunity for all stakeholders to reflect on progress to date and to share their views concerning the provision of enhanced creative engagement opportunities for young people, both in the classroom and their home or community.