Creativity isn’t limited to the arts
Bryan Kolk’s column Monday about creativity in education was thoroughly mistaken in its criticism of the education system (Getting creative with education, 10/27/2008). We can all agree with Kolk’s basic premise that creativity in the classroom should be a priority, but the article went too far. No Child Left Behind has faults, but this doesn’t mean that there is something fundamentally wrong with the philosophy behind our education system.
Education is often caricatured for inhumanly and robotically producing soulless cogs in the vast machine of society. However, the “conservative and misguided” view that education has a utilitarian purpose is not the problem. Education is still needed to build the basic skills necessary for being productive in society. The reality is that people educate themselves because they want to advance economically, and this isn’t a misguided philosophy.
Additionally, a focus on math and science doesn’t stifle imagination. On the contrary, math and science can be applied in ways that are creative, imaginary and entrepreneurial. If you don’t believe me, ask any engineering major. Creativity isn’t merely confined to the humanities. For instance, public policy that emphasizes math and science doesn’t necessarily shackle a student’s mind to the prison of crippling unoriginality. Education will always be an imperfect system. But for a column purporting to advance creativity, it was wholly uncreative in proposing a solution.
Math and science offer real-world skills that other areas simply can’t
In Bryan Kolk’s column about education in our country, he made a good point about education — that creativity and leadership are necessary to solve today’s problems (Getting creative with education, 10/27/2008). What he didn’t seem to understand is that engineering, based on math and science, teaches both creativity and leadership and will produce the solutions to today’s problems. Math and science are the building blocks to engineering, just as reading is the building block to the humanities.
Let me say that I fully support arts and humanities. I’m an avid musician (clarinet player), and I studied Latin for five years. I enjoyed these studies immensely, but I didn’t gain from them the knowledge or skills I needed for today’s world. I gained these skills from being an engineering student.
Let me try an example. How are we going to solve the energy crisis? Studying Catullus’s Roman poetry didn’t give me an answer, nor did studying Carl Maria von Weber’s Clarinet Concerto No. 2. The math, science and engineering I’ve taken here at the University gave me the skills to solve this issue. Whether they were design courses where I had to build a tool or product, or science classes where I learned how engines operate and how to make them more efficient, these courses taught me to think about the problem, analyze it and create solutions. I’m involved in combustion research at the University, and this research could reduce our oil usage and noxious emissions from cars. Sorry, but neither Catullus nor Weber helped me with my research.
This is but one of the many examples of how engineers will solve today’s problems, and how math and science are necessary for these solutions. So before writing off math and science as “memorizing facts” and unimportant in our world, look at which subjects actually produce solutions to today’s issues. Pushing education in math, science and engineering are fundamental to our country’s success.