Preparing Our Children for the Creative Economy

By Marc C. Whitt

CreativeEconomyA seismic-like shift is occurring within the world's leading economies that should literally be music to the ears of music and arts educators, music parents, and school districts that value and support the arts.

That global economic shift is called the Creative Economy and as music education advocates, I cannot think of a more appropriate and exciting social and economic movement to promote.

Prior to the 19th century, the United States economy was largely agrarian, before moving into the Industrial Age, which took place during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Today, many economies of the developed nations are being fueled by individuals who are innovative, entrepreneurial, and artistic. This new generation is driving what has become known as the Creative Economy.

In his bestseller Rise of the Creative Class (2003), Richard Florida predicted economic and social forces that would continue to reshape our nation’s economy, our work environments, and our way of life. Artists, entertainers, engineers and scientists, architects, actors, writers, educators, physicians, and business executives will all work together as they bring their unique set of skills and talents to the workplace. Ideas, innovation and entrepreneurialism will be the driving forces for the Creative Economy.

The good news, music parents and music educators, is that music programs are already developing the Creative Economy workforce it must recruit.

Music in our schools deserves all the support we can muster. It is vital that Education, Business, Industry, Government, and of course, our communities including music parents, work together to support music and arts education in our schools.

The Creative Economy will have even greater dependency in the years ahead on recruiting young men and women who are creative and who can communicate effectively and think critically. With this being the case, it is fundamentally important that music and arts education be a fundamental part of our child's total educational experience - from Primary through College. Countless studies support this by providing empirical data.

According to Bloomberg Business, social media giant LinkedIn reported that the word most used by its members to describe themselves in 2011 was “Creative.” The desire to be creative is part of our DNA as humans. We seek it. We thrive on it. We celebrate it. And now, we build economies by it.

The challenging news is that despite this global economic demand, we still continue to see headlines of school systems cutting or eliminating altogether music programs. In light of where our global economies are heading, this just doesn’t make much sense.

In many ways, that’s comparable to someone trying to light a camp fire while the person beside them douses it with water.

So as we continue to advocate for music in our schools, not only must we consider the vast benefits music and arts education provide our children, but be mindful how their educational experience will prepare them for a world much different than the one we had at their age.

Innovation. Entrepreneurialism. Critical thinking. Problem solving. Team work. Creativity. Sounds a whole lot like what music education has and will continue to offer our children. And in my book, that’s worthy of our continued support, encouragement and teamwork.

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