I have begun to notice a depressing trend, imagination and creativity are being pulled from the classroom and students are no longer offered the vast diversity of creative courses that once populated course options in primary and secondary education. Classes like art, music, pottery, choir, band, dance, theatre, speech & debate, and even language courses are being eliminated in favor of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) courses. I find this trend to be disturbingly alarming.
While living abroad I was confronted by a colleague who said, "You know you Americans aren't the smartest people, but you're creative that's your strength." The thought has occupied me for more than a decade. We are quite creative. There are more patents in the US than any other country. We are the leader in film and music industries. We have more successful start up companies in all branches of business and industry than nearly any other nation in the world. We are entrepreneurs. We thrive on our creativity and our imaginative spirit.
Yet, we're now eliminating those programs that inspire creativity and imagination. We're defunding music, and the arts. We're making imagination and creativity take a back seat to what some people think is more important. I do not believe that we're utilizing our nation's strength and creative spirit. We are telling a generation that they must conform to what the rest of the world does. I don't agree. I think that we need to seize what makes us great and be bold in our creativity and imagination. Other nations can supply the engineers that make our ideas happen, other nations can supply the factories that manufacture what we dream up, other nations can be the work horses that culturally they have always been. That is not who we are.
By eliminating educational imagination we are stifling our growth as a nation. By eliminating creativity we are telling our young people that their American dreams aren't important. By eliminating the arts we are setting ourselves up for an economic downturn all over again. What will happen a generation from now when the musicians, film students, and writers that have fueled the world's grandest film industry, publishing industry, music powerhouse are no longer there?
Studies prove that imagination and creativity lead to better results in any business or industry. It leads to happier, more productive employees. We are an imaginative nation, turning from that cultural mindset will only hinder our growth and we will struggle to find our place in the world.