We, students, are praised for our ability to produce results in the form of papers, tests, and projects. It’s not so much about the process, more about the product. This type of environment does not allow for the wild, out-of-the-box thinking that may at first spark controversy, but eventually leads to the amazing innovations that we see all around us.
When you think of the concept of creativity, your mind tends to veer towards the arts. Fine art, performance art, and multimedia all have creativity as a necessary ingredient to success in this field. It is obvious to the viewer or listener that what they are experiencing came from a unique and original thought process. As little kids, we have art classes where we have some sort of fun project to do. Towers of popsicle sticks, hot glue guns, the classic hand turkey, and finger paints. I gotta say I was a big fan of art class. But…. now looking back on the way that art is taught in school, I realize that conformity is still emphasized more than creativity. Every kid in the class does the same art project. You look at the walls of the second grade and you will see lines of the same idea produced over and over. This is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. This experience is the spark for some young artists. As we work our way through the years of schooling, art becomes something that only a select group of students participate in. These artists break away from the mold of the strict curriculum seen in other subjects. Art fosters creativity at a higher level. It asks you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone.
The arts are seen as creative while the sciences are seen as qualitative. This mindset– I argue, is harmful to our future. There is a newer idea that is coming to the forefront of conversation in education. The idea is to trade out the acronym STEM for STEAM. I know that there has been a lot of pushback from this, but honestly, I’m not sure if I fully understand why. From my perspective, I think that it is positive to see the addition of Arts to the team. Thinking creatively makes things more fun, it adds that wonderful spice to learning. The sciences are filled with equations and concepts that are just pure memorization. They are the baseline to solve and figure out the world around us. But if you only see these equations as numbers and letters and do not wonder how to use these concepts differently, progress slows. Creativity is essential to turn equations on their head and look at life from a different vantage point. Divergent thinking is how new things get created. In a way, I see the sciences as the cake and creativity as the frosting. The desert is always better with the right ratio. Not enough frosting and the cake is boring, not much to experience. Too much and you feel overwhelmed. When the cake and frosting balance each other out, you enjoy yourself and you might grab another slice.
This blog has kinda been all over the place but I wanted to write something that makes you think and ponder the type of education that you are receiving. All of us are stacked with science classes (duh, obviously) but I think that it is important to make sure we look at our classes with the possibility to find the art within. I like the idea that I'm surrounded by people who take on the difficulties of these STEM classes. We push each other to be the best versions of our educated selves. So, I am going to push us all (myself included) to look for the creativity within the qualitative. We can be entrepreneurs within the classroom. All it takes is a little divergent thinking.