American author Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, said only in half-jest: “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Sadly, education has – over the years – morphed into this creature that crushes curiosity, tramples creativity and kills the innovative spirit of our youth. The focus of education has moved from igniting minds and helping youngsters embark on a joyous voyage of discovery to a stressful marks-dictated maze that students traverse.

 With the largest youth population in the world, it is time India gave some serious thought to the role of creative thinking in education. In fact, we could go as far as to say that creativity should become a part of the curriculum. While some argue that creativity is inborn and cannot be taught, many others believe exactly the opposite. Both sides are armed with research, statistics and expert-speak to support their arguments. So let’s leave the experts to argue this out. Our focus is to understand why it is critical – in these uncertain and fast-changing times – to ensure that students are exposed to creative thinking and processes.

We live in a knowledge economy where ideas are the real currency. A borderless world where the next big idea can come from just about anywhere: the bright kid dabbling with software codes or the fresh out of college youngster with a start-up waiting to be funded. It’s a world that values innovation and hero-worships innovators. A world where Steve Jobs is more known than the traditional success icons.

Creating a climate conducive for ideas and innovation, therefore, is no longer an option. It’s a necessity. Or as Adobe so succinctly puts it in their report on Creativity in Education: “Creativity is no longer an elective. It’s the future.”

Exposing creative thinking to students will not only help them in understanding concepts better but will also equip them with the skills and resources necessary to face the challenges of a world that is constantly changing. It will teach them to be resilient and adapt to new scenarios. It will give them the tools needed to adopt a new innovative approach to problem solving or help them come up with a simpler, more effective process or develop new strategies.

Here are some eye-opening facts from ‘Creativity and Education: Why it Matters’, a survey of college-educated professionals, carried out by Edelman Berland (Now Edelman Intelligence) in October 2012.

  • 9 out of 10 surveyed agree creativity is required for economic growth and is valuable to society (96%).
  • 85% agree creative thinking is critical for problem solving in their career
  • An overwhelming 88% agree that creativity should be built into education curricula, while 82% wish they had more exposure to creative thinking when they were students
  • 71% believe creative thinking should be taught as a subject like math or science

As we enter the Imagination Age, there will be a greater demand for ‘creative leaders.’ In fact, US author Daniel Pink predicts that there will be a power shift between left-hemisphere leaders and right-hemisphere leaders at the executive level. But it is valid to ask if our education system is equipped to foster and inspire the next generation of leaders? Share your thoughts with us.

UniGAUGE is an assessment platform under ERA Foundation. The educational rating and assessment foundation is a not for profit organisation. ERA Foundation focuses on educational assessment, rating and skill building in the higher education sector in India. We at ERA Foundation operate with a larger mission of enabling holistic improvement of the education sector through consultation and cooperation with key stakeholders including policy makers, education institutions, corporate sector and the student community. More Information about ERA Foundation is available at www.erafoundationindia.org

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