Imagination and self-initiated play are important childhood activities. Not only does this type of play help children develop social and emotional skills– but fantasy, curiosity, and imagination, are some of the crucial building blocks needed to master advanced math and science.
It is time to have a serious national dialog about the sorry state of American education. As the new Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce noted, the educational process itself is in need of reevaluation:
The governance, organizational, and management scheme of American schools was created in the early years of the 20th century to match the industrial organization of the time. It was no doubt appropriate for an era when most work required relatively low literacy levels, most teachers had little more education than their students, and efficiency of a rather mechanical sort was the highest value of the system.
In recent years, American industry has shed this management model in favor of high-performance management models designed to produce high-quality products and services with highly educated workers. Some school districts are moving in this direction. That movement needs to be accelerated, formalized, and brought to scale…..
The ED in 08 initiate hopes to bring this debate to the 2008 presidential race through a combination of targeted advertising and taping the energy and enthusiasm of the netroots. The goal of this advocacy campaign is to raise concerns about American education into a top tier campaign issue.
If you would like to get involved, visit EDin08.com.
"Is anybody out there not having a good time?" -Buckaroo Banzai from the movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
What does a report on the state of the American education system written by the wonky New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce have to do with global warming? As it turns out, plenty.
There are two economic arguments put forth by the global warming doubters to derail any action on climate change. The first: implementing the necessary changes to reverse global warming will, hypothetically, ruin the economy. The second: India and China refuse to limit their emission of green-house gases, so why should the United States cap carbon and leave itself vulnerable to unfair competition.
Sadly, globalization combined with a sub-par educational system has left many American workers vulnerable to real economic hardship under our current system. Any job which preforms routine work can, and will be, automated or moved off shore where the work will be performed by highly educated workers who are willing to work for half the cost.
According to The New Commissions report:
"If we continue on our current course, and the number of nations outpacing us in the education race continues to grow at its current rate, the American standard of living will steadily fall relative to those nations, rich and poor, that are doing a better job. If the gap gets to a certain–but unknowable–point, the world’s investors will conclude that they can get a greater return on their funds elsewhere, and it will be almost impossible to reverse course. Although it is possible to construct a scenario for improving our standard of living, the clear and present danger is that it will fall for most Americans."
And what exactly, is the scenario The New Commission envisions which could reverse this dangerous trend:
"The application of information technologies has by no means run its course, but there is every reason to believe that several other technologies are poised to make a similar impact on the same scale. Among them are nanotechnology, biotechnology, and a group of technologies that may hold the key to energy independence. Through history, new sources of energy, particularly steam and electricity, have powered decades-long economic growth, destroying entire collections of old industries and giving rise to new ones."
In order for the United States to continue to dominate as the world’s economic super-power, there needs to be a drastic shift in our national priorities.
The educational system will need to be radically reconstructed to produce a new type of student. This student will have the skills in mathematics, English, and science which are equal to, or better in quality, compared to the highest standards of our economic rivals, namely India and China. But this alone will not be enough, as The New Commission explains:
"The crucial new factor, the one that alone can justify higher wages in this country than in other countries with similar levels of cognitive skills, is creativity and innovation. Our firms will not win unless they can produce not merely an incremental improvement on the lower-cost competition, but with ideas that will lead to a quantum leap in value to the customer."
Given this new economic reality, the second argument against action on climate change seems ridiculously short-sided. By choosing not to innovate and develop the clean energy necessary to limit, if not eliminate the production of CO2, India and China have given the United States a huge opportunity to get back in the game.
Let’s have some fun and seize this opportunity.
In an earlier time, radical transparency was peer-reviewed science and most recently, the open-source approach to software development. Now, the business world is beginning to grasp the benefits of engaging an increasingly sophisticated customer base.
Fire the publicist. Go off message. Let all your employees blab and blog. Even the CEO. In the new world of radical transparency, the path to business success is clear.
Some good ideas, bundled together, to help get the most out of your creative mojo. Here is my favorite:
Listen. Listen to everyone you can. Really listen. You don’t learn by talking about yourself and your own experience. You learn by listening to the ideas and experiences of others. By listening to the ideas of those around you, you can pick up whatever’s useful. Even the things you reject have taught you something—if only what to avoid. Everyone you talk with can bring you learning opportunities you might otherwise have missed. Never be snobbish either. The best lessons come in unexpected packages. One of the hallmarks of the fool is that he or she thinks learning is restricted to the “right” situations and people. Like birds of a feather, fools flock together, reinforcing their foolishness by deciding they’ll only listen to one another. Wise people know they can’t predict who or what will provide the best lessons in life. Sometimes it will be the voices all the “right” people have rejected.
More details from the list can be found at Lifehack.org via Digg:
"Places provide the ecosystems that harness human creativity and turn it into economic value." -Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class
One of the more interesting arguments in Richard Florida’s book The Rise of the Creative Class is that place is the key determinant in economic success.
He argues creative talent is drawn to certain environments that foster self expression and diversity. The shocker being– jobs go to where the talent is, not vice versa.
If you are interesting in developing a rich creative environment where a community of ideas can be developed, The Memphis Manifesto is a good place to start. Here are the principles which make up the manifesto:
The Creative 100 are dedicated to helping communities realize the full potential of creative ideas by encouraging these principles:
- Cultivate and reward creativity. Everyone is part of the value chain of creativity. Creativity can happen at anytime, anywhere, and it’s happening in your community right now. Pay attention.
- Invest in the creative ecosystem. The creative ecosystem can include arts and culture, nightlife, the music scene, restaurants, artists and designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, affordable spaces, lively neighborhoods, spirituality, education, density, public spaces and third places.
- Embrace diversity. It gives birth to creativity, innovation and positive economic impact. People of different backgrounds and experiences contribute a diversity of ideas, expressions, talents and perspectives that enrich communities. This is how ideas fl ourish and build vital communities.
- Nurture the creatives. Support the connectors. Collaborate to compete in a new way and get everyone in the game.
- Value risk-taking. Convert a “no” climate into a “yes” climate. Invest in opportunity-making, not just problem-solving. Tap into the creative talent, technology and energy for your community. Challenge conventional wisdom.
- Be authentic. Identify the value you add and focus on those assets where you can be unique. Dare to be different, not simply the look-alike of another community. Resist monoculture and homogeneity. Every community can be the right community.
- Invest in and build on quality of place. While inherited features such as climate, natural resources and population are important, other critical features such as arts and culture, open and green spaces, vibrant downtowns, and centers of learning can be built and strengthened. This will make communities more competitive than ever because it will create more opportunities than ever for ideas to have an impact.
- Remove barriers to creativity, such as mediocrity, intolerance, disconnectedness, sprawl, poverty, bad schools, exclusivity, and social and environmental degradation.
- Take responsibility for change in your community. Improvise. Make things happen. Development is a “do it yourself” enterprise.
- Ensure that every person, especially children, has the right to creativity. The highest quality lifelong education is critical to developing and retaining creative individuals as a resource for communities.