This year looks to be a benchmark year in education reform. In 2013, not only do the new Common Core State Standards start to become integrated into curricula, but one of the country’s most impactful pieces of educational legislature is up for reauthorization. The America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act (America COMPETES) was first signed back in 2007 under President Bush and dedicates itself to increasing the number of teachers qualified to teach in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, increasing the number of master’s degrees amongst teachers, and turning the academic focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. When the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act was signed in 2010, a more intense concentration was turned to STEM programs, particularly financially. Now, in 2013, the act is up for a second reauthorization, and people have begun to question such a hard focus in these areas of education.

Campaigns for certain revisions to the upcoming reauthorization suggest a considerable push toward incorporating programs that foster creativity. Having the arts, or programs like them, become a more significant part of an American education—thus transforming STEM education into STEAM education—seems to be the most popular way to bring out the creativity in our nation’s youth. The recent emergence of a new economy seems to demand a more creative worker who best develops in the presence of a creativity-infused education. A generation of workers whose creativity was nurtured rather than ignored, and who were taught how best to apply that ingenuity, better suits our changing economy’s needs. Students who are taught in a creative setting will better reinvent business strategies, negotiate in new ways, and produce new products and marketing techniques that have the potential to transform our business economy.

The question is not, nor will it ever be, which aspect is more important: creativity or STEM? We should not choose one over the other. Instead, the best course of action would be to meld the two together, making a generation of “creative scientists.” The creativity taught in school will in turn foster the innovation that the twenty-first century demands. The two work hand in hand.

Further Reading