Uniting Work And Play To Promote Innovation

An article in The Atlantic examines America’s creativity crisis and the ways ‘play’ could serve as potential antidote.

In her piece for The Atlantic, Laura Seargeant Richardson, principal designer at frog design, suggests that American students aren’t developing the skills needed to thrive in a increasingly complex global economy. While math, science and literacy should remain as the bedrock of any education, the innovation unlocked by play may be our greatest unexploited resource, teaching children the skills required to capitalize on the opportunities presented by global progress. One need only look at the educational systems in rapidly developing countries for evidence that play is no longer something viewed altogether separate from work. In China, the government recently launched a five-year initiative focused on advanced play that is intended to develop its students’ problem solving skills and fostering their creativity. Yet despite these hard facts, America still lags behind.

The creative crisis in America, as laid out by Richardson:

According to Newsweek, the United States is in a creativity crisis. TIME reports that today’s students are less tolerant of ambiguity and have an aversion to complexity. And The Futurist suggests that the biggest challenge facing our children is their inability to think realistically, creatively, and optimistically about the future. Wake up, America. The real threat to the United States’s continued superpower status isn’t from an arsenal of weapons—it’s from the lack of an arsenal of the mind.

Eighty-five percent of today’s companies searching for creative talent can’t find it. In a recent IBM survey, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. And the United Nations just released the Creative Economy Report of 2010, suggesting that creative countries are more economically resilient. As Tim Draper voiced in the documentary 2 Million Minutes, “America is the one country that doesn’t seem to recognize that it is in competition for the great minds and capital of the world.”

Her prediction for the future:

Someday, rather than measuring memorization as an indicator of progress, we will measure our children’s ability to manipulate (deconstruct and hack), morph (think flexibly and be tolerant of change), and move (think “with their hands” and play productively). Standardized aptitude tests will be replaced by our abilities to see (observe and imagine), sense (have empathy and intrinsic motivation), and stretch (think abstractly and systemically). We will advance our abilities to collaborate and create.

The Atlantic: “Play Power: How to Turn Around Our Creativity Crisis”

Image by National Assembly For Wales

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