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Breaking the Education Mold: Creativity and Innovation for the Millennial Generation

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Today’s guest blog post has some big ideas for the modern workplace about creativity, innovation and generational differences. It opens with a quote from one of the most famous innovators of all time.

All children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. -Pablo Picasso

Picasso was an artist that defined the beginning to mid of the 20th century. His ideals, forms, and exploration inspired thousands and brought newness to the art world and propelled the modern art movement. Being an “artist” is not just meant for the art world. There is no need for a canvas, a paintbrush or a pile of clay. Rather, being an artist is a translatable and marketable skill that can be used in any field. It defines the ability to be creative. To generate original ideas that have value is a currently accepted definition of creativity. In today’s millennial generation, as we blossom out of public education and into public and private universities and eventually into the workforce, creativity is what separates those prepared to those successful and to those fulfilled. These three groups are the products of our universities, and the numbers within the last group are beginning to dwindle.

Why is that?

Our current education model was formed in mirror of the industrialization of our modern societies. There was a need to be qualified for a mass number of growing jobs. Those positions were held in high esteem and needed only those qualified and literate to fulfill it’s duties. Those intelligent enough and quite often wealthy enough could not obtain higher-level jobs by showing their credentials. Even going back twenty years ago, a simple B.A. often meant immediate job placement. Fast-forward to now, a B.A. is slowly becoming the equivalent of a high school diploma.

Our education system is breeding groups of young adults to be like everyone else, to know the same information and to only use their head and often just one side of it. When we are children our minds, our ability to take risks, our bodies, and our pure willingness to explore and experiment are wide open. At the end of high school, for most, that openness is left as a tiny crack. So how can we as societies expect to propel forward and innovate with original ideas––if what we are creating is none of the sort?

Sir Ken Robinson

© Flickr user Sebastiaan ter Burg

Changing the education system is something that needs to be done, but is far from being accomplished anytime soon. However, we as college students and/or current graduates have an opportunity to make a change. We can still open our minds, re-nurture our creative spirit and transform our society into one that caters to our generation and not just what has come before us.

We need to take our lives by the reins, seek opportunities, dialogue with our communities and thought-leaders, and know in ourselves that fulfilling jobs and lives do not just fall from the sky––rather they are found from those exploring, pushing and taking risks.

How can we do this? I’ve narrowed it down to four simple tactics:

Reflect

This tactic simply means to look inward and outward and compare notes. Spend time with yourself. Ask yourself questions, give yourself challenges, and know where you thrive and where the road meets the wall. Often enough we as eager beavers take whatever is handed to us without ever letting it simmer and develop. A fulfilling life starts with pursuing your best-fit realm and in order to do that one must know themselves.

Research:

Look at the world around you. Find those who inspire you and get into their shoes and minds. Read, look, watch, and record as much as you can. Humans are natural sponges, regardless of age––and often enough as we shield ourselves off from our creative spirit, that sponge turns into rock.

Researching in the Library

© Flickr user SLU Madrid Campus

Renew:

Our bodies are in constant renewal at every moment except from death. Our cells, blood, and connections are constantly generating and changing. We can do the same in our world. Change your routine, your perspective, and take on the role of another. We are natural, especially our generation, at trying new things and throwing out the old. This is key for innovation and essential for a fulfilling life and career.

Risk:

Bethany Shepard, guest bloggerFinally, risk is everything. As children we lack the fear of risk. We are willing to give anything and everything a chance. As we grow, however, we are taught that mistakes are negatives and are to be avoided at all costs. Trial and error defines human existence and should never be hammered away just out of fear of the unknown. Try new things, give failures another go, and push away the fear of being wrong.

Often enough our wrongs, our fears, and our concerns can lead into something new, beautiful, innovative, and creative. We as the new working class of the world can give something back of value. Technology has given us access to information, communities and opportunity in the click of a button. It would be a tragedy to waste it, but the bigger tragedy would be to never try at all.

This post was inspired by a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. Bethany Shepard is a recent graduate of the Herron School of Art & Design and is currently a copywriter and email marketer at xiik marketing. She lives in Indianapolis with her favorite cat, Mr. Boo and always has a fresh cup of coffee. You can find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and the xiik website.

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