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The surprising dividends that come from nurturing creativity

02/23/12 -  

From The Charlotte Observer

From Cathy Anderson, the Wireman Professor at the McColl School of Business at Queens University of Charlotte:Cathy Anderson

In the rapidly changing business world, one essential skill set is needed for the 21st century workforce.


According to the latest IBM Global CEO Study, creativity is the No. 1 skill business leaders look for when hiring. However, results of a long-term study of creative abilities show an alarming decline in creativity measures among U.S. children since 1990.

Coping with change and managing complexity are the primary challenges of future global leaders, yet we seem to be doing less to equip them to meet those challenges.

Daniel Pink, author of "A Whole New Mind" on the importance of developing both left and right brain skills, wrote, "We need to educate our children for their future, not our past."

Building the next generation of creative business leaders requires cooperation from resources throughout the community. We need to offer arts and cultural programming that is accessible and affordable. This is where our future - and current - leaders can learn to recognize issues, think critically, calculate risks and innovate.

In the "Creative Connections" course I teach, I've watched students explore the nature and universality of creative thinking. By harnessing their own creativity, they learn to develop personal and organizational frameworks for creative problem-solving - even though many enter the class saying, "But I'm not creative ..."

That's why I'm impressed with the renewed strategic partnership between the Arts & Science Council and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The collaboration calls for a more efficient operating platform that makes creativity and innovation central to education. The most important element is a new lineup of quality arts, science and history offerings that align with the N.C. Common Core (formerly Standard Course of Study) and CMS's learning priorities.

The Common Core is designed to be relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills young people need for success in college and careers. The ability to create and innovate has long been an international competitive advantage for the U.S. We need these dynamic changes in education to keep up with the dynamic changes in our competitive future.

Dollars raised through contributions to ASC's Education Fund and the Make Your Mark campaign are already helping to provide field trips to cultural organizations, classroom experiences through local artists along with education training and development for teachers.

The ASC's 2011 Cultural Life Survey found there is broad enthusiasm for these initiatives: 88 percent of Mecklenburg County residents agreed that arts, music, drama and dance education programs are important in helping children do better in academic subjects.

But we have to support the ASC financially to make these good things possible for our future business leaders. When we contribute to the ASC, we are not only supporting a vibrant cultural sector. We are investing in the types of educational experiences that our kids all need to succeed.

The work of the creative mind pays surprising dividends for all of us.

For the Record offers commentaries from various sources. The views are the writer's, and not necessarily those of the Observer editorial board.

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