Bringing Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity to a School Near You
Last summer The Creativity Crisis made the cover of Newsweek. The report documented the decline in creativity in U.S. school children. This leaves American children at a disadvantage when it comes to competing in a global economy. With social, economic, and political challenges getting ever more complex, creative leadership is rising in importance. In fact, a study of 1500 chief executives identified creativity as the most important competency for the future. If creativity is that important, shouldn't it be taught in schools? Though embracing creativity within schools is slow going, I am hopeful change is coming soon. On June 10, 2011,
U.S. Senators Kay R. Hagan (NC) and Olympia Snow (ME) yesterday introduced the bipartisan 21st Century Readiness Act to prepare our students with the skills needed to compete in today's economy. The bill would reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) by placing an emphasis on the importance of 21st century skills. These skills include the "Four ‘C' Skills:" critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity and innovation.
While we wait for the bill to take effect, there's no need to sit on the sidelines. Parents can promote creativity at home. Here are a few suggestions to build creativity skills:
- Help your child learn by allowing him or her to get into the thick of things. Rather than relying on lecture and rote memory, try creating memorable experiences of learning by doing. For hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities, check out PBS' STEM Education Resource Center.
- Encourage your child's curiosity. Remember when your little one used to run around the house asking, "Why?" Well, as kids get older they don't ask why as much. To help your child tap into his or her inquisitiveness, turn the tables and ask your child open ended questions (i.e. questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no). Using phrases like, "How to?...How might?...In what ways might?...What might be all the?" can help your child dig deeper.
- Give your child the freedom to explore. In today's day and age where parents feel rushed and pressured to do more in less time, it isn't easy to loosen the reins when it comes to our children's learning. In particular, homework becomes a dreaded chore that we sometimes try and squeeze into a time slot. Though it may be difficult, resisting the urge to hover over your child while he/she completes homework can allow the breathing room required for children to tap into their imaginations. I learned this the hard way.