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More than Guns and Oil

In post-Gaddafi Libya, an audacious few look to re-ignite the nation’s creative impulse.

When the unrest in Libya first began almost four years ago, newspapers and magazines reported about the explosion of art in the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli. Graffiti and murals covered every inch of bullet-ridden surface, lending the streets a visual vibrancy that matched the revolutionary fervor in post-Gaddafi Libya. Art exhibitions were being held for the first time. The international press regularly gave shout outs to Libyan artists, like sculpture artist Ali Wakwak and ceramicist Hadia Gana. International organizations like the Goethe Institute and the British Council invested in efforts to promote local cultural production, funding literary and arts events in Libya.

The passions that fuelled the revolution were soon replaced by disillusionment with the stagnating democratic process. However, a number of institutions have emerged recently to rekindle the creative energies unleashed by the 2011 uprising. Among them is Noon Arts, an arts collective helmed by Najlaa Alageli and Nesreen Gebreel, two Libyan women who’ve spent much of their lives abroad.

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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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The State of Summer School: Teens Are Hitting the Books Year-Round

Top high school students are feeling the pressure to get into the best colleges, so they're signing up for summer school. Willingly.

When I was in high school I spent my summers letting my nerd flag fly high by doing things like sitting around reading The Count of Monte Cristo—all 1,312 pages of it—in one day. My peers hit up the pool or roamed the mall, but none of us ever considered going to summer school. For my generation, summer school was where the "bad" kids who ditched class to smoke weed in the parking lot went so they could still graduate on time. But nowadays if you live in a city where summer school hasn't been eliminated due to district budget cuts, chances are that the honors and AP crowd is more likely to spend June, July, and part of August waking up early and schlepping backpacks to campus—and it's all driven by the desire to get into a top college.

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