What makes an education excellent?
By the Reverend Kimberly L. Hyatt, President & CEO, Cathedral Arts Project
No doubt everyone can agree that an excellent education is one that equips students to be a good citizen and to succeed in college and/or a career.
If we really want to provide an excellent education, we have to start taking the arts seriously again. If we want to equip today’s students for the jobs of tomorrow, we’ve got to do more to cultivate creative thinking.
We cannot predict the kinds of jobs we’ll be trying to fill a decade or more down the road. Students who are being trained very narrowly for today’s top jobs are likely to find their skills obsolete in a few years, and employers are going to be left once again searching for qualified workers.
Some of the oldest known musical instruments are flutes from Germany, estimated to be over 40,000 years old. No one can agree on the earliest visual art, but it is much older. The point is that before we created agriculture, before we created the wheel, we were creating art and music and who knows what else.
And yet for so long now, the way we do education has stifled this innate creative drive. Who are the children we think are smart? The children we think have potential are not those who create, but those who regurgitate.
The teacher transfers information to the student who then transfers it back to the teacher or to a test. If data transfer is the purpose of education, we can retrieve that data, we can get the answers to those kinds of questions just by pulling out or phone or talking to our watch.
But it’s the important questions Google cannot answer. Those questions require imagination, problem-solving, and creative thinking. And the jobs of the future, whatever they turn out to be, are surely going to require those same skills. There is no better way to nurture those skills than through an excellent education that includes the arts.