The other day I was proofing the final pages for my upcoming book, What If We Taught the Way Children Learn? and read the following from Chapter 20:
We need creativity in medicine if we’re to find new healing methods. We need creativity in science if we’re to discover answers to the world’s mysteries.
When I first wrote those words, never in my wildest imagination could I have envisioned the mystery that recently turned our world upside down. Who but someone like Stephen King could have concocted the pandemic that has had me and so many others isolated at home, at this point, for over 11 weeks? That has caused the deaths, at this point, of 100 thousand people in the United States alone. I was simply writing about the need for our education system to foster creativity in our children. And I was pointing out that creativity is not the domain of artists alone.
Isn’t it sad that it has taken a pandemic to highlight how desperately we require problem solvers in this world? As I write this, scientists urgently search for a vaccine or cure for Covid-19, and medical professionals feverishly try to contain the spread and to work in far-less-than-ideal conditions. If that doesn’t define creative problem solving and imagination, I don’t know what does.
Clearly, the world doesn’t need more people able to complete worksheets and fill in bubbles on tests. It requires divergent thinkers – individuals who see multiple solutions to challenges! Who can see beyond what already exists.
I have never understood the inclination of an education system to foster convergent thinking. To promote the idea that there is only one right answer to every question, as do worksheets and standardized tests. To pump out individuals who fit neatly into molds. I’ve said something similar before, and I’ll say it again: Einstein didn’t fit into a mold. Marie Curie didn’t fit into a mold. Dr. Christiaan Barnard, the cardiac surgeon who performed the world’s first heart transplant, did not fit into a mold. Nor did Steve Jobs; Virginia Apgar, the obstetrical anesthesiologist who invented the Apgar score; or Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize.
All of these individuals likely thrived despite their schooling. We know Steve Jobs and Einstein did. But are we willing to take the chance that people of this caliber will continue to come along without the appropriate encouragement? It seems even more improbable now that testing and accountability have almost completely taken over our education system. Don’t we want more, rather than fewer, individuals who can change the world for the better?
As I wrote in my last blog post, it’s time for a revolution in early childhood education. Heck, we need one in education in general! We simply can’t stand by and let policymakers who don’t understand children, child development, brain research, or how children learn continue to make all the decisions about how children learn!
So many people have reached out to me since I published that post. They all want to join me in the revolution and are waiting for me to lead the charge. So far, I’ve decided to create an online course about advocacy in ECE. But, beyond that, I’m still “percolating” on ideas. And, like so many of you, I’m a little overwhelmed right now. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear from you – especially if you have ideas for the revolution!
I don’t know how many people will connect the dots and see the correlation between the horrors we’re currently experiencing (even more since I originally drafted this piece) and the need for creative problem solving. But I hope a lot of them will. And that they will also see the link between the need for creative problem solving and the failures of our education system – and will be willing to help generate change.