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Why Is It So Hard To Put Imagination Back Into Schools? Imagination Summit Discusses Creativity In Schools

A national "Imagination Summit" wants to help schools figure out how to bring creativity and innovation to the classroom. Is it really that difficult?


When you were a kid, you didn't need anybody to tell you how to use your imagination. You made up imaginary friends and spent your time designing LEGO rocket ships that traveled the galaxy without any prompting. And then you started school, and you probably had a teacher tell you to stop daydreaming—stop imagining—in class. You also learned that far from being allowed to think up multiple creative solutions, there was only one right answer to a test question, and if you bubbled it in correctly on a Scantron form, you'd get an A.

Fortunately, because imagination, creativity and innovation are increasingly prized in the workplace, future generations might be spared this dumbing-down process. There's a growing consensus that our public schools need to put those three traits at the center of learning. In an effort to help, over the past two years, the Lincoln Center Institute, a part of New York City's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, has hosted regional conversations about imagination and creativity. This month they're hosting a national Imagination Summit, which will bring together representatives from all 50 states as well as "elected officials, legislators, education experts, business leaders, artists, and scientists." Their goal is to create "an action plan for policy makers, educators, and community activists to put imagination at the forefront of our school curricula."

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How to Save Multiculturalism

"Multiculturalism" isn't a bad word. Embracing the differences diverse people bring to the table can create endless educational opportunities.


U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron just reignited the debate on "multiculturalism," joining ranks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy by declaring their multicultural policies a "failure." As a U.S. passport carrying, multilingual, daughter of immigrants, and as a mother of aspiring global citizens, such a defeat felt like a kick in the gut. In my travels speaking to diverse audiences on gaining a global perspective and the tools contained in my book, Growing Up Global: Raising Children to Be At Home in the World, I’ve seen quite the opposite: individuals of varied backgrounds coming together to raise beautiful families, make friends across cultural and ideological lines, and take tangible steps toward building a better world for their children.

Upon closer review, David Cameron’s justification for the failure of multiculturalism seemed reasonable: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live separate lives, apart from each other and apart from the mainstream." Speaking specifically of radical Muslim youth, Cameron argued this resulted in marginalization, rootlessness, and "behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values."

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