Reitz High School

Reitz High School
Evansville, IN

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Enhance the Strengths; Encourage Creativity

I was reading my timeline on Facebook the other day when I came across an interesting post.  A friend of mine was talking about a teacher they had for a class.  They quoted the teacher as saying, “I want what I want, when I want it, the way I want it.”   He was referring to their assignments.  It doesn’t sound like this left a whole lot of room for the students in that class to be creative.  Should conformity equal success in our schools?

Education in the United States focuses way too much on standardized test scores.  It is a fact that countries with higher test scores have fewer entrepreneurs.  I believe the reason for this is because people are not standard.  We are all individuals with strengths and deficits.  Education should enhance the strengths of our students and not focus so much on trying to fix their deficits.  Albert Einstein once said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid."  This is happening in our schools today.  Students with wonderful talents believe that they are not smart.

Dr. Yong Zhao, founder of Creative, Entrepreneurial, and Global: 21st Century Education compared the American education system to a sausage maker.  We want all of our students to look the same/standardized when they graduate.  This was the type of worker we wanted to produce after WWII when we had tons of factories with assembly lines.  Today’s jobs and future jobs are not what they were in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, yet the American education system still has this mentality.  We are in the Digital Age now, not the Industrial Revolution.

American education is not getting worse; it just has always been bad.  Instead of focusing on what Americans are good at, we try to make education like it is in other countries.  Dr. Zhao said, “The only difference between Asian and Anglo math scores is one group uses chopsticks.  So if Americans want to improve math scores, they should use chopsticks.”  He was being humorous.  His point was let’s focus on what we are good at and not try to be like someone else.  We need to encourage curiosity and harvest creativity in our students.  Perhaps Curios George should be our mascot.  What kind of students are we sacrificing by only focusing on English and math?  How many Einsteins are not developing because we want what we want, when we want it, and the way we want it?

We need to enhance student strengths and produce more entrepreneurs.  Our current education system doesn't make students entrepreneurial. They wait for someone else to give them jobs.  Entrepreneurial qualities include: confidence, friends, risk taking, passion, creativity, alertness to opportunity, global competency, uniqueness, and empathy.  These are also qualities essential for today’s students.  Many of these qualities can be learned via fine arts.  We cannot continue to force our students to learn a certain way.  This will cause them to hate learning.  People are different, so why do we still try to make everyone good enough in a bunch of things instead of helping them to be great in one?  Lets do what Yoda says and unlearn what we have learned.  We need to instill the spirit in students of moving beyond being an employee to being an entrepreneur.