Importance of the Arts in Education Published 2006-11-07

I was raised to believe that any education requires more than Reading, wRiting, and aRithmetic. I remember licking stamps and stuffing envelops with my parents as they helped a school board candidate who campaigned on the platform of fighting the fundamentalist movement in our local school district. I also remember those election nights seeing our candidate lose and enduring the restrictive curriculum that followed.

It seems appropriate that on this election day that I revisit the idea that education is more than just learning facts or the basic skills.

This morning I stumbled on a speech about "The Role of Creativity and the Arts in 21st-Century Education" from Stanford University - April 2006. I am a great fan of including "creativity" as one of the basic principle to be included in any education.

What I find so interesting in this article is that Stanford not only recognizes the importance of the Arts in teaching / fostering creativity but also the importance of creativity beyond the Arts.

The arts can help us break out of traditional patterns of thinking and adopt fresh approaches to intellectual experiences. Discontinuous innovations require novel thinking and breakthroughs in how a particular problem or challenge is approached. I believe the arts offer an expanded tool set for learning and understanding that can enhance creative thinking skills. But this will also require facilitating more cross-disciplinary collaboration between the arts and other fields.

As I head out to my polling place, I don't have a candidate for whom I have licked stamps and stuffed envelops. But the issues of the 70s and 80s remain. What do we value in our education system? For my money, creativity must be high on the list.

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