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A rotating panel of experts will provide commentary on topics related to the creative economy. We encourage readers to respond and share their thoughts.

Sarah Murr, Community Investor, Arts & Culture, The Boeing Company

Seven Survival Skills

There is much public opinion about the need for creativity and arts education in the classroom. Perhaps it's because there is a disconnect, at a very basic level, in how many people perceive arts education and what skills it can teach. In his book, "The Global Achievement Gap," author Tony Wagner details what business leaders have defined as the "seven survival skills" for the 21st century workforce:

      1. Critical thinking and problem-solving,
      2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence,
      3. Agility and adaptability,
      4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism,
      5. Effective oral and written communication,
      6. Assessing and analyzing information, and
      7. Curiosity and imagination.

The arts are one of the most powerful ways to build creative minds. The actual teaching of an arts discipline and/or the integration of the arts with other core subjects are real game-changers for students. The arts bring connection, wonder, and understanding to a student's mind and enable that student once again to become engaged and excited about learning. "Creativity is now as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status," writes Sir Ken Robinson.

Are we doing everything possible to ensure students are receiving a quality education, including the arts, to learn the seven survival skills that business leaders have defined? Most jobs today require at least some level of technical savvy, problem-solving aptitude, an ability to communicate and work with others, and the capacity and desire to learn new ways of thinking and doing. They're certainly qualities that an engineering company like Boeing would value. If there is a disconnect in how people perceive arts education and the value that it brings to fostering these skills, what can and should we do to change that? We owe it to our children's future to try to answer these questions.

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