Teaching creativity is as important as teaching literacy in schools…according to Sir Ken Robinson. He argues that we live in extraordinary times when nobody can predict the future, not even five years from now (See his talk at the 2006 TED conference on BizzFlip.). This observation has been recently made evident to me when hearing leading economists say that they are unable to explain exactly why the world economy (e.g., housing market, banking, price of oil) is behaving as it has and that they can’t predict what will happen in the months and years ahead (It's been said that economists can't even predict the past.). More evidence is the old line auto companies (i.e., the Big Three) that have been amazingly inaccurate in predicting the demands of the marketplace. And still more evidence is our healthcare system that seems beyond anyone’s grasp. Our systems have grown so complex that we can no longer rely on the past to predict the future.
We have to be prepared to constantly create new ways of responding to conditions that are continually in flux. Robinson seems to put the onus on public education. I would argue that we can’t put the total responsibility for learning creativity on school teachers. I think we have to help families teach and reinforce creative thinking and risk taking, help colleges and universities integrate the arts into the total curriculum, and help employers support innovation and not treat failure (or lack of success) as a disease.