How Can Education Foster Creativity?


"Since there is no single set of abilities running throughout human nature, there is no single curriculum which all should undergo. Rather, the schools should teach everything that anyone is interested in learning." John Dewey

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When educational budgets are cut, the first cut is usually the most deadly -- cuts to arts and humanities. Take a minute to Google "cuts to arts and humanities." What you will get is a result full of outcry around the world against cuts in arts and humanities in education. In Broward county, Florida groups came out in March 2010 to protest. Their signs read, "Children make beautiful music. Music makes beautiful children." You can't spell smart without art." and "Cuts in education never heal." (Americans for the Arts Action Fund) University World News reports, October 24, 2010 that the United Kingdom's government is cutting the higher education budget by 40%. Protected areas with be the STEM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. A massive demonstration was planned for November 10 in central London. The biggest cuts will be to arts and humanities. (UK, Massive Cuts)

In June 2010, Portland Public Schools’ Superintendent Carole Smith proposed eliminating physical education programs and/or art, music and foreign languages for the district’s elementary, K-8 and middle schools. (Willamette Week, June, 2010) These are just a few of the many, many examples of cuts to arts and humanities. With many countries worried about keeping pace and being competitive in the technological race, the emphasis in education is shifting towards the STEM subjects. Globally, STEM is all the rage.

While EduCitizenship 2020 certainly believes in the importance of a focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math education, our group asks what is the cost?

spacerwiki280.gifWhen arts and humanities are cut and everything is about STEM, will students be more creative or innovative?
Should every student focus on STEM?
Where is the diversity?
Where is the personalization?


Education-Portal.com in an August 30, 2010 article questions the focus on STEM. The article questions what the research shows. One example they give is of recent research by Professor Paul Whiteley, University of Essex, who analyzed the relationship between the number of individuals studying STEM subjects and the economic growth rates. What he found was that investing in higher education in general leads to economic growth, but that growth is not linked to any particular subject. While some have criticized Whiteley's analysis, focusing on one area in education to the exclusion of another may have a detrimental effect. The list of the largest companies in the world includes many in the field of technology. What that means is that the potential funders for educational projects are largely technology-based. It seems natural then that these groups have an interest in promoting technology. Many will follow the predictions of reports like the Horizon Report for funding ideas. What that means is that most of the money again may go towards technology-- things like mobile learning, cloud computing, augmented reality, visual data analysis, and digital books.

EduCitizenship 2020 believes that it will be the responsibility of all those seeking funding to consider the whole learner. Consider educational systems that do obtain high standards on all subjects in PISA tests. Countries like Finland do not make cuts to arts and humanities. Much work in these countries is focused on projects that consider subjects from all sides. Any project can include art, science, math and humanities. A brief look in our Models Schools/Classrooms section will show that the models chosen reflect a view that subjects like math or science or art do not exist within themselves; they live together.

In his now famous 2006 Ted talk, Sir Ken Robinson asks the question, Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Below is a 6 minute highlight of Sir Ken Robinson's talk.






Let's remember the importance of art and the humanity in the humanities.





Next up, Inquiry-Based Learning