We love it when innovative people share big ideas, especially when those ideas directly affect our children. Can you imagine a world in which most jobs are obsolete? If not, you are most likely in for a rude awakening in the coming decades of radical shifts in employment. This is particularly true for the new parents nurturing the next generation into adulthood.
When anyone can access the world’s greatest library from their cellphone, even the long-revered skill of knowing things, loses its marketability. In fact, thanks to Google we may now add the very concept of “knowledge” itself to a growing list of no-longer-scarce resources.
Millions of skilled jobs will soon be crumpled,for example already thousands of retailers whose staff and storefronts jobs are becoming redundant, or the hospitality and transportation industries currently being pecked away by app-based sharing services like Ola and Uber.
Does preparing your kids for a world in which hard-working, knowledgeable people are unemployable, frightens you? The solution to this could be in a trait that is distinctly human. We are speaking about “Creativity”. Send your kids to art school. Heavily invest time and resources into their “creative literacy” and they will stand a chance at finding work and or fulfilment in a future where other human abilities become irrelevant.
Any adult reading this, would be belonging to an era when parents urged children to learn a subject that would funnel straight into a specific career field. Even those parents who encouraged their children’s creative dreams did so with a belief that we should also consider getting a degree in a practical field that “you can always fall back on if sculpture/philosophy/theater/poetry doesn’t work out”. No doubt this protective instinct was a smart one considering the reality of our youth. An arts education might promise a life of self-discovery, but there has always been reasonably assured financial stability in the high-demand arenas of science, education, skilled trades, governments, etc. Surely that dynamic won’t last much longer.
This is not to dismiss the importance of any field of study. A world without scientists or doctors or teachers would be just as broken as a world with no artists. Without programmers and engineers the very technologies that make life efficient would quickly disappear. But with the abundance of information and tools freely accessible “online”, it’s safe to assume that those who want to get trained in any technology have few obstacles in learning how to do so – No degree required. The same goes for any pragmatic skill.
The arts, however, are a polar opposite to pragmatism. Cameras have long exceeded our ability to realistically and efficiently render images, but still our love of painting remains to this day. By now we know that the value of a great painting isn’t in its accuracy at rendering a view but in the artist’s unique capacity to convey a viewpoint. Our willingness to pay extra for beautiful clothes, creating beautiful homes, and sleek cars is motivated not by functionality but by emotionality and aesthetics.
An Education Revolution is at Hand
Of course history is also filled with countless stories of equally creative figures lost in the systemic grind of working for the others. We’ve all known brilliant people, seemingly not made for our time, whose potential was crushed by dead end jobs after their work was rejected by the film/music/publishing/anything industries. The excuse of being ahead of one’s time can no longer apply though. We live in an age where a person speaking into a webcam can collectively raise hundreds of thousands of dollars just by telling people about a good idea. The gatekeepers are gone and they are not coming back. Our only remaining obstacle can be lack of good ideas !
It’s time for a revolution in education that reflects our new reality and gives students the necessary tools to survive it. It’s time for the creative classroom.
Does this revolution require us to toss out math or science or history? Absolutely not!
Let children pursue their own interests and they will find their way to all areas of study as part of the exploratory process. Let the child who is in love with aeroplanes continue to obsess over aeroplanes. With proper guidance he will soon find himself learning civics, engineering, history, physics, chemistry, sociology, economics, and everything in between – all of his questions fueled by a simple aesthetic attachment to “aeroplanes”.
No healthy child is born without an innate sense of wonder about their world. However, this childhood compulsion to explore is a bud quickly snipped by adults conditioned to fear the unknown. The tradition of discouraging unusual questions and behavior in children is so pervasive that we have come to view that those who survive with their creativity intact are having a “gift”.
Assume that your children have limitless creative potential and begin to nurture it. Assume that your children’s ingenuity is the one true safety net available in these times of rapid change!
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