As time rolls forward, as our society changes and evolves, our way of doing things cannot remain stagnant and hope to also remain relevant. The weakest form of teaching is a talking head. Are there times when it is necessary? Absolutely, and every time a teacher must lecture, they should also make sure to couple that lecture with something else that will stimulate interest in their students. In a recent study, Dr. Kyung Hee Kim noted that we are in the midst of a creativity crisis. Dr Kim compared the results of nearly 300,000 individuals who participated in the Torrance Test for Creative Thinking from 1966 through 2008. The comparative results showed a startling decline in creativity among K-12 students. Of course there have been a few out there who have defied this decline (Steve Jobs for example), but the fact remains that the vast majority of our youth are losing creativity.
When a body builder takes a significant time off from exercise, his muscles atrophy and he literally becomes weaker. Creativity follows the same rule: if you don't use it, you lose it. What is the difference between the 60's and today? What does it have to do with education? Entertainment is far more ubiquitous today than it was 50 years ago. Many children spend the vast majority of their day with their face glued to a screen of some type. They don't run, play or imagine the way they once did. Instead, they swipe, tap, and view their free time away. During the school year they spend 40 hours per week in a classroom (sometimes with their eyes still glued to their iPod screen). In the classroom they are told to sit in rows, be quiet, listen to the lecture, and regurgitate the presented information on next week's exam. They are rewarded for following the crowd, for doing everything "the right way." When the economy declines, the school budget gets cut. When the budget gets cut, the first programs to be cut are those that foster creativity. When a child asks a silly question, they are reprimanded or ignored rather than taught how to think and how to question.
It all ties back with education. We will never get every parent to properly raise their children. We will never get every teacher to teach in such a way that explores creativity and innovation in the classroom, but it is far easier to affect change through the gradual and creative improvement of education than to write an assume every parent will choose to step up their game. When we finally realize the importance of creativity in education, we will begin to see innovative ideas take hold and help reshape our society. Tesla Motors recently made all of their patents public. Their cars run solely on electricity, emit no toxic fumes, and have minimal moving parts, thereby reducing the risk of vehicular failure. Their motor was created based on the designs of Nikola Tesla over 100 years ago. They can run a 1/4 mile in under 12 seconds; faster than a Ford Mustang. Since they have no engine, the hood acts as a second trunk. A giant touch screen computer embedded in the dashboard not only allows you to control your car from your phone, but also makes it possible for Tesla Motors to remotely patch fixes to your car without recalling it. Imagine where we would be if innovative ideas like those of Nikola Tesla had been taken seriously 100 years ago?