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Lois Hetland and Ellen Winner wrote an article for the Boston Globe in 2007 that promotes creativity and learning. A recent study of art classes in Boston-area schools revealed that arts programs teach a unique set of thinking skills not covered elsewhere in the curriculum. It is despite the fact that arts education is increasingly essential in an education system that is increasingly test-driven.
Why shouldn’t they? Betty Edwards, the best-selling author of “Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain”, advocates the use of our right brain hemisphere. She has also written outstanding coursework that shows the inherent underdevelopment of this part of the brain—the majority of educational programs in America, which were established in 1800, favor left-hemispherical instruction. We were still primarily agricultural at that time and slowly began to play a significant role in the Industrial Revolution. Despite their existence in a one-room schoolhouse, music, drama, and art instruction quickly moved to larger and more spacious classrooms. The New World’s early manufacturing technology was a bright light on American youth’s future.
These artful programs declined as the 1900s approached. Sputnik and the “Space Race”, which emphasized Science and Math learning, changed school curriculums forever. Our manufacturing industries declined, and the New Age of Technology transformed the future of schoolchildren’s education. In both public and private schools, the importance and role of the left hemisphere was again a significant factor in what schools would teach our youth.
Rich Creative Thinking
We don’t know yet if most financial, scientific, legal, and mathematical positions require creativity. It is because “thinking outside of the box” has allowed for significant progress in these areas. Creative thinking can enhance any aspect of our lives. How do you do it?
Suppose we have been trained in the American educational system. In that case, we will process information as data, meaning that dates, times, and charts represent elements that control our lives in fiduciary, factual, and monetary ways. It is how we perceive reality and is why those who are best equipped to process the data have the best chance of succeeding in our culture. Can creativity help us be better? Because we can’t see the whole picture when we focus on one part of our brain. Our brains are capable of generating many options, but we’re not cognitively able to access them all. We are therefore severely limited economically, culturally, and politically, as well as spiritually.
The Total Brain
Many cultures are still able to develop our whole brains using the same cerebral scenario as ancient Western culture. As the global economy expands, education patterns tend to favor left-hemisphere education. We will inherit a globalized, lop-sided view that severely limits our brain capabilities and slows down the right. Will we have children who are restricted in this way in the future?
This is a dismal prospect and, hopefully, science fiction. We can choose to cut off the rich resources of the right-side, which will result in children and their future generations inheriting a two-dimensional world that stifles creativity, suppresses innovation and creative research, blocks poetry, theatre, and artists’ endeavors, and ultimately cuts off a very important resource. Our restrictions on creativity could mean that the entire world suffers.
Here’s my challenge. Discover your right side! You will be more robust and better equipped to face the challenges of the world.