The Art of Sustainability. Third in the Design series.

Last week I attended the University and College Art Educators Conference, UCAE, on the Future of Arts Education in this Time of Economic and Political Turmoil. The sub-title should have read “Or in anytime for that matter.” With all the crises and challenges facing the world today, can’t we art educators stand up and take charge once and for all?! Innovation, Creativity, and Sustainability are the sounding mantras of what is needed and yet we are still debating the value of the arts?! In the past few decades, we have seen America’s trade deficit continually increase while its competitive edge continues to decline along with the ingenuity it once prided itself on. As Ken Robinson likes to point out, as he travels the world over the education system is the same: math, language are at the top of the scale and the arts are relegated to the bottom of the list if at all. Yet even with arts inclusion, Robinson declares, “schools kill creativity.” How can we begin to look out on the world around us and address sustainability when what is needed is as Robinson sees it, human ecology. We haven’t addressed sustainable human value, or we de-valued it by “vulcanizing”* children. A study on innovation is highlighted today on the HBR blog. The chief finding in innovative individuals is inquisitiveness. Four year olds excel at this skill by asking questions, but they will stop asking questions just a short two years later. As a result, children will grow into adults who have lost their sense of curiosity, and discovery and wonder about the world around them. And the consequences? Today’s workforce lacks an entire skill set: 1. associating – making connections especially among seemingly disparate subjects. 2. questioning- inquiring into the “what ifs” of a situation (or why and why not’s). 3. Ability to play, and experiment, test concepts and explore possibilities which are endless. Unfortunately, we are locked into the a world of “it is what it is” or “go for the low hanging fruit.” Doesn’t that just make you jump out of bed every morning! ~to be continued.
*Kerry S. Walters
Professors Jeff Dyer of Brigham Young University, Hal Gregersen of Insead, and Clay Christensen of HBS further explore this topic in an article which will appear in the December issue of Harvard Business Review.
HBR Blog:
Ken Robinson Ted Talk:

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