“The Changing Workplace is Changing Our View of Education.” Business Week, October 1996.
In this video, Education and Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson discusses a topic we’ve visited here previously – the need to reassess the traditional categorizations of learning (subjects) and assessing their relative importance in the 21st century.
In my book, Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music, I articulated that the greatest benefit of arts education is that the participants develop tools of introspection. There is nothing more important in education than to give children the ability to look inside of themselves and to determine their special gifts and unique calling in life (more on this thought in tomorrow’s blog post).
In this video that is a follow-up to a previous lecture posted here, the brilliant Sir Ken Robinson discusses the personalization of education and the need for an education revolution. Everyone who cares about education should view this video!
Here’s another tool in the arsenal of music and arts education advocacy efforts. The recognition of the importance of creativity in the 21st century workplace continues to escalate. This BusinessWeek article discusses survey results of 1,500 chief executives identifies creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future.
What are we doing to demand that educational institutions align with this trend by prioritizing music and arts education?
I discussed in a previous post a report by the Center on Education Policy (CEP) regarding the effect of the No Child Left Behind Act on the classroom that discussed the shift in education resources toward subjects that are assessed via standardized tests. CEP also provided recommendations based on their findings, one of which was to encourage the states to “Consider including measures of knowledge and skills in art and music among the multiple measures used for NCLB accountability,” based on their research that indicates “What gets tested gets taught.”
That brings up a touchy subject that gets debated in the academic world – How do you implement tests for the arts that truly capture artistic aptitude and competence? By definition the arts are about creativity, and standardization can discourage creativity. How would Charlie Parker or Pablo Picasso have performed on a standardized arts test? My fear is that standardized testing for the arts would drive the move toward memorization of facts rather than creative application, which is essentially what the arts are all about and the greatest benefit of arts in our schools (see item #5 of the 9 Common Lessons of Music Education that Translate into Success).
These thoughts led me to the emphasis on memorization in education. As a parent of a 12 year old, I can say that education today is similar to my education experience in that regard. Let me preface my remarks by saying that I believe that unless we find a way to transfer artificial intelligence to human beings in real time, memorization will always be a part of the education experience. But Social Studies, Science, and Religion (in private schools) are almost exclusively an exercise in memorization at the elementary school level. Math and grammar are of course a hybrid of memorization and application.
My point is that as the access to information becomes closer and closer to instantaneous with mobile devices that can access the web, the importance of memorization is diminished. Our schools are doing a relatively good job of addressing the importance of technology and familiarizing our children with computers and the web, from what I can gather. They are not, however, addressing the “creativity/memorization ratio” in terms of time spent on these skills in the classroom relative to their importance in the 21st century.
In the corporate world, I attended conferences and encountered speakers who used the term “Think Outside the Box” more times than I care to remember. I think the term has been around so long that it was formerly “Think Outside the Cave.” The problem is that those words were usually spoken by someone who had a blue pen, a red pen, and a mechanical pencil in their shirt pocket – always in that order. Managers can set the tone for innovation, but that’s a whole other discussion. See “Business Meeting Creativity Ideas” or “Fostering Creativity” for more info.
I posted an interesting article from James Carlini recently where the author advocates a movement away from the 3 R’s of education toward a F-A-C-T approach that teaches Flexibility, Adaptability, Creativity, and Technology. I wonder how we can apply that approach to the educational culture where those concepts and systems are so engrained in all of us.
Let’s start with the breakdown of subjects. How did we arrive that these divisions of learning (math, science, English/grammar, social studies, etc.) and are they still appropriate? Taking Carlini’s lead – why not Problem Solving, Team Projects, Creative studies, and Technology as common subjects?
Some would argue that we learn problem solving and creativity in our mathematics and science classes. I ask, “Would it be better to introduce mathematics and science as a component of a Problem Solving, Group Project, or Creativity class (that’s where the arts come in)?” After all, accessing scientific data and performing mathematical tasks are increasingly tasks that computers can accomplish. Just a thought.
Does it strike anyone as odd that in the 21st century, the most heralded academic competition (The Spelling Bee) is one that can be performed in a millisecond by pressing a function key on your computer? How about a “Common Sense Bee” or a “Problem Solving Bee” instead.
I don’t claim to have the answers, and I can only imagine the frustration of the dedicated and exhausted members of teaching profession every time someone tells them how to do their jobs better.
My point is simply that when you really want innovation, you need to discard all preconceived notions of the way things have been done in the past, at least during the brainstorming stage. In other words, don’t “Think Outside the Box.” Dismantle the box and determine what shape will best serve you moving forward.
This amazing Pantene commercial is extraordinary on several fronts. Number one, it illustrates the future of advertising. In a 21st century multi-media world, you can sell with just facts and information – you’ve got to engage hearts and minds, while entertaining your audience. It also illustrates why we need the arts in our schools. Now more than ever, the sensitivities of the artist are needed in the business world. Notice how subtle yet powerful the message of the sponsor is – the product Pantene doesn’t appear until the final 5 seconds of the video. Brilliant!