Creativity, Imagination and Skills for the 21st Century: Pretending or Contending

A familiar stated purpose of education is to provide all students in the United States with skills, habits, and attitudes leading to social responsibility, college and careers. 

Within the past 10 years, much research and work has been put into defining the body of knowledge that students must know and be able to do in order to be “successful.”  Student outcomes and education support systems must be unified.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2008) attempts to do this through a definition of student outcomes.  The Framework for 21st Century Learning, over ten years in the making, defines  a vision for 21st century education.  The framework includes but is not limited to opportunities to learn “creativity and innovation, flexibility and adaptability, leadership, and cross-cultural skills—for all students" (Ken Kay's (2010) 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn).

Are we pretending to use the knowledge that we have accumulated through such well-known researchers as Howard Gardner's (2006) Multiple Intelligences and (2007) Five Minds for the Future; Johah Lehrer's (2012) How Creativity Works; and Gayle Gregory and Martha Kaufeldt's (2015) The Motivated Brain: Improving Student Attention, Engagement and Perseverance, just to name a few?  Do we talk a good game of allowing for the student’s preferred modality of learning?  Have we squashed the hunger for knowledge and curiosity in our classrooms?

 Today I toured the Louisiana State University Center for Computation and Technology and the LSU Emerging Technology Center. (

I saw people working to solve problems with the use of stem cells to cure cancer and other diseases. I saw workers dressed in hoodies or pajamas as they sat in a cubicle with the computer to find glitches in computer games. I saw PhD’s and recent high school graduates working to solve today’s problems. Multimillion-dollar corporations are housed in the facilities and they are hiring those necessary to solve their problems.

Later in the evening I went to see and hear Manheim Steamroller, founded and created by Chip Davis over 30 years ago, when the use of a synthesizer and a lot of creative variations on familiar Christmas music caused the group to have the number one album in that genre for years.  Creativity, risk taking, business sense,  “heart” for the clientele and above all, the trained talent of each professional musician were evident. (

 I saw Peanuts: The Movie, innovative filming, production, sound, and character theme were designed for both kids and adults. Think of the many academic and subtle skills needed to cause a production like that to come to fruition. What did we teach people involved in making that movie when we had them in our classrooms?

Will education pretend to provide opportunities for all students no matter the learning style, zip code, type of intelligence or modality of learning ? Will we be contenders in the world economy and the ideal world of peace resulting from education for all students?