Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Creativity Exists in All Fields

Quote from the Americans for the Arts website:

"Nationally, 702,771 businesses are involved in the creation or distribution of the arts, and they employ 2.9 million people. This represents 3.9 percent of all U.S. businesses and 1.9 percent of all U.S. employees—demonstrating statistically that the arts are a formidable business presence and broadly distributed across our communities"

What is a creative industry? For The Americans for the Arts study they were conservative and used this definition:

"Creative Industries are composed of arts-centric businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and advertising companies. We have guarded against overstatement of the sector by excluding industries such as computer programming and scientific research—both creative, but not focused on the arts."

More attention has been paid recently to people in creative industries and the impact those industries have on the economy mainly as a backlash against a call by some for more science and engineering in our education system and a perceived need for more scientists and engineers in the US economy. Commonly known as the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) vs STEAM debate (as before but with the addition of the A for Arts).

As if we should have to choose between scientists and artists.

The key is in the second quote "...excluding industries such as computer programming and scientific research, both creative, but not focused on the arts." There is a nod to the notion that creativity exists in all fields, not just the arts. This holistic approach to education as a life-long and complete learning experience would serve education professionals better than the current "cafeteria" approach where everyone gets to fight for their particular field and put down those in other fields. It is the reason, I think, that Project Based Learning (PBL) is an idea gaining steam (sorry).

Instead of quick units on a specific topic or rote memorization of the answers to questions with a yes or no answer, PBL involves a problem, challenge, or complex challenge that is investigated over time using life skills such as critical thinking, communication, and yes, creativity. The method may be reminiscent of scientific research but PBL also follows the classic creative process model. Graham Wallas proposed this model of the creative process five decades ago but the simplicity of it--preparation, incubation, illumination, verification--endures today despite many, many modifications.

The beauty of the PBL approach is that is applicable no matter what the subject area. You can follow this method in physics, biology, math, music, art, computer programming, etc. This is what we should be pushing for in our education system. Forget the debate over which subject is better than another, there is no right answer to that one.

We should be teaching children how to learn, not what to learn.

For more information click Americans for the Arts to go to the site.

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