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Why teach creativity?

It's increasingly understood that creativity is an essential skill in the 21st century.  But for those environments in which creativity is still seen as childish retreat, it helps to have a good, short argument in the back pocket.  Here's one--one that ties creativity together with critical thinking:

Critical Thinking and Creativity

Part of what motivates many educators is the understanding that the world our students are entering is more complex and more demanding of our attention than it ever has been.  Our civic responsibilities, for example, remind us of the necessity of sound critical thinking skills for a functioning society.  At elections, we make decisions about complex issues like tax policy, international relations, campaign finance reform, and much, much more.  In courts, we measure and evaluate the intricacies of DNA evidence, financial systems, and statistical analyses.  Navigating these turbulent waters of civic life today challenges our critical thinking skills more and more as we sift, sort through, engage, evaluate and prioritize the rising tide of information.

But if our critical thinking skills are what allow us to understand the world around us, our creative skills are what enable us to respond to it, to develop equally novel solutions to the novelty of our challenges.  On a large scale, how do we renovate urban and suburban infrastructure as population grows to unprecedented levels?  How do we refine our food supplies and harness new energy sources to match this population growth?  Or, more personally and more intimately, how do we raise children when they can access the world’s information—and increasingly, the world’s population—from their desktops, or even from their pockets? How do we untie these knots?  Or how do we learn to use this tangled rope?  These new challenges require not only that we critically understand the challenges around us but also that we create new solutions to resolve them.

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