I wanted to share a thought on our education system here in Nevada. I just saw an analysis by WalletHub that ranked Nevada 43rd overall in education with the state ranking 30th in terms of quality of education and 44th in education attainment. I’d like to propose the notion that the missing piece to this puzzle is our implementation of creative programs in our schools. Not in terms of teaching art but in terms of utilizing them to enhance students’ information processing and problem-solving skills that they can carry into other classes. Allow me to explain.
I have been working as a creative person for most of my life. I have worked as a creative director at my firm for over 20 years. I’ve had to find inspiration on a deadline daily. It has caused me to implement a metacognitive approach to creativity. I’m much more curious about the process than the result. I have put my ideas into a book and workshop that I’ve been lucky enough to present to elementary school kids, teenagers, young adults, teachers, and business owners. Over the years, I’ve been asked to discuss creativity in many schools in my community. I have had opportunities to speak directly to teachers and students interested in seeing changes in our education system that would encourage and engage our creative quotient in our schools.
Simply put, I believe that student academic performance is equivalent to their level of curiosity. When there is a want for knowledge, it allows them to be more motivated, analytical, and vigorous in their search for knowledge. It gives them the courage to take more chances and revel in the achievement.
So, where does this curiosity come from, and is it teachable? I believe it is. At the moment, it is built from being shown something personal or relevant to them. This is difficult because, within the confines of a systematic core curriculum, we are left with the student’s cynicism and negative perception as obstacles to a deeper understanding of the benefits of education. But it does happen when a student is exposed to it by exceptional teachers, attentive parents, good role models, or by their self-awareness and need for intellectual stimulation.
But what about the students who don’t have that influence or see its value? They slip through the cracks not because of their intellectual capacity but because they are in a system that doesn’t inspire them to be curious in a relevant way. If a class only focused on expressing the importance of curiosity, that revealed to them the “why.” Exposing students to their potential intellectually and showing them how amazing the discovery of opportunities can be, we might inspire kids to begin to show curiosity and passion for the core curriculum essential in a modern education system. They may start to realize that math is more than calculations and numbers. That literature is more than storytelling.
Education has become compartmentalized and systemized. I think it’s necessary to find the thread that connects each course to succeed in it. So they will challenge themselves to gather everything they are learning and bind them up so the student can own their knowledge, instead of borrowing it long enough to pass the next test. We need an education system that inspires students to have a free and independent mind with a broad acceptance of ideas and the tools to evaluate them.
I believe our education system needs to change from its current model, but unfortunately, that’s not likely to happen any time soon. But inserting a course that builds curiosity might be an option that could raise the student’s level of engagement in the class. Again, I’m not an educator, but I have seen remarkable achievements from people whose only fuel was curiosity. If we target the lack of curiosity in more of our students, I believe we would be on the right track.