The goal of public education is to adequately prepare children and young adults for their futures in the “real world.” At one point in American history, this meant equipping students with the tools to perform mechanical, industry jobs. This meant a focus on math, sciences and literacy. Meant is the key word in these statements. Today, what is more important for preparation? Should we be training factory workers or artists? We have the technology, what is being demanded now?
John F. Kennedy once said, “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.” This idea of free flowing creativity is not novel, but rather lacking overall. If educational ideals do not shift, students will be sorely unprepared for the demands of a designing world.
An obvious observation of our society’s progression is the higher demand for the newest, coolest item. This includes cars, gadgets and media tools. However, we aren’t looking for people to discover the latest car or the new cell phone. That technology is covered. We want the prettiest car or the sleekest phone. These demands are currently met by the select few that managed to escape the monotony of technical education (about 9.2% of college graduates according to the National Center for Educational Statistics).
Logical reasoning lends itself to the belief that our country must adapt to these demands in order to remain successful and competitive. For example, during the Industrial Revolution, people lost jobs to machines. Now people are losing jobs to foreign countries, but have not accepted the fact that they must adapt to what is needed at this time. The first step in promoting this change is within our school systems.
Congressional law makers only demand measurable results of student success in core subjects like math and reading. Elementary students may have lessons on math skills five days a week, but music education only happens once a week. Also, when budgets are tight, fine arts are often the first to go. There is very little emphasis on developing curiosity and artistic talent in any facet (art, music, writing). It saddens me to think of the admiration and respect given to Tristan by his court and king, and how that same standard of appreciation cannot be found today.
It should be of the upmost importance of teachers at all stages to stimulate creativity and imagination. Our ever-changing societal trends are demanding it and students should be prepared to compete not only with smarts, but with new ideas.