Remember in school when you were told that you couldn’t color outside of the lines? I remember it vividly and got in trouble for even questioning why we couldn’t.
I understand the reasons for rules, especially as a kid when you seem most powerless against the all powerful adults who just don’t understand. I know you need to show up for class on time, pay attention, do your homework, and don’t disrupt the class. But when it comes to your imagination, there really aren’t any rules.
I always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even in grade school, but was discouraged by my teachers to pursue it. It seems my experience wasn’t unusual. Even though America is the land of opportunity and entrepreneurs, our current school system doesn’t give students the tools or the encouragement to take creative risks. Guidance counselors never gave me the option of being an entrepreneur. They kept trying to steer me in the direction of college, which was neither a financial option for me nor of any interest when I just wanted to jump into the world of entrepreneurship and find my own path.
Student creativity has been in serious decline for the past few decades, according to Kyung Hee Kim, Professor of Education at the College of William and Mary. She found in her study of creative thinking, “that children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesizing, and less likely to see things from a different angle.” This makes me sad for all of the children who are having their creative dreams stifled before they even get a chance to blossom. It sets them up for a lifetime of conformity and a fear of failure.
Durham, NC teacher Turquoise Parker is inspiring her students to learn how to use critical thinking by asking more questions. This is a great way to set students up to become more creative and to look at everything from a different perspective. It’s a great way to get kids to consider alternative interpretations and unpopular views.
As a kid who insisted on coloring outside the lines, I’m now an entrepreneur and small business owner who is in a position to hire those future employees. I don’t pay as much attention to what’s on a resume, but value someone who is curious, willing to learn, and a problem solver.
The job market of the future is changing, and will require more critical and creative thinking. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs Report”, creativity and problem solving are listed in the top three skills that employees will need by the year 2020. Critical problem solving is one of the most important attributes that employers look for in a new hire in the future. I hope I can do my part to spread the message that more creativity is needed to help kids prepare for a successful future.