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Creativity and Education...an unholy union.

April 21, 2014

 

Which of the following best describes creativity?

 

A. An ability to create something new

B. Thinking beyond your present paradigm

C. Something unstructured and different

D. A problem solving tool

 

If you picked either A, B, C, or D, you are partially right. Creativity encompasses all of these and more. Creativity is not about choosing one right answer, but rather diverging and having multiple answers, multiple solutions, and multiple ideas. It also goes beyond that. It’s about having open answers and an open mind for different solutions and ideas. Nowadays, having different ideas makes you stand out and yet so many of us choose to make it secondary.

 

So why is it that our educational system insists that we lean towards analyzing, judging, and choosing the “best” fit answer instead of encouraging free thoughts and an open mind? The arts are considered less of a priority while the sciences are on top of the list. Of course science and math are important subjects, but why aren't art and music classes given the same level of priority? These are the classes that foster creativity, keep kids excited, and create an opportunity for their minds to think differently.

 

It seems like every time there are budget cuts, the art classes are the first to go. But what would you do if there was a budget cut and you had to make a decision to choose between the sciences and arts? The majority of adults would cut the arts and never the sciences. Yet it is the kids who almost intuitively recognize the value of the arts. In the words of a sixth grader, “You get to be creative and show the kind of art you like. [In] the other classes you can’t do that much. With art classes, you can put your imagination to be creative and get something out of that.” She then continued to explain that because of her art skills, her teacher asked her to draw something for math. “For example, in math class, we had to draw the symbol “pi”, and make it something different, like a table.”

 

Yet many kids will never get a chance to experience art in schools. It seems they have to rely on the math and science classes to be able to express their creativity rather than take a class that could give them more options to stretch their thinking and imagination. Unfortunately few recognize that one way to raise our children’s interest in math and science is through classes that enable them to express mathematical concepts in engaging and unique ways.

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