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As the United States evolves into a more modern mentality, many people have become increasingly concerned by the indulgent attitude of younger generations. Many colleges have begun to offer classes such as “The Science of Harry Potter” (Frostburg State University) and “Underwater Basket Weaving” (Reed College) that seem entirely pointless. However, strange and unique classes can be an output for students to enhance their creativity which in turn molds the minds of the new generation to become creators of fascinating ideas and products, as opposed to the boundless number of compliant and easily replaceable workers that crowd the work force of America today.
There are certain classes that every person should be required to take at the college level such as mathematics, English, etc. but having fun and creative classes as electives is not a terrible thing...even at the college level. Although it may not seem like these classes make a significant difference in a student’s ability to join the workforce, every experience in life can be used to create something inspirational. While taking the class, one fact – no matter how bizarre – may make a student’s mind start to turn the rusty wheels of imagination to create a product that will change the lives of millions of people across the world. According to Alfred North Whitehead, “inventive genius requires pleasurable mental activity as a condition for its vigorous exercise,” (The World of Mathematics, 2000, Vol. 1, 239). If education was based off of Whitehead’s idealism, classes would consist of unique and inspirational subjects as opposed to stuffy standardized curriculum. Seymore Papert shares Whitehead’s ideas as he states that “the role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge,” (The Aims of Education and other Essays, 1967, 45). Thus said, it is a teacher’s job to provide a healthy environment to learn and also help students explore creative ideas. Although people may not understand the purpose of such ideas at the time, every idea has the potential of becoming immortal.
Creativity and imagination are factors of learning that are seldom recognized by the educational system. Today’s society is based heavily off of results and numbers. Many school districts focus only on heightening a child’s learning ability in order to improve test results as opposed to creating a learning environment that enhances brain activity. Although standardized testing is an easy way to compare a student’s academic abilities to those of other students nationwide, often it does not fully articulate a student’s capacity to learn and be successful. “People are forgetting that math is taught when a child is playing an instrument. Critical thinking is taught when a child is analyzing art,” Says Jamie Marick (www.nea.org). While classes that reinforce creativity are becoming increasingly scarce in junior high and high school, it is important for colleges to start incorporating classes that feed the creative mind.
In this day and age, the internet has become a fascinating tool for children and adults alike to spend countless hours exploring. To get the internet to such a tantalizing state, however, required the creative minds of thousands of people worldwide. Internet entrepreneurs such as Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google) and David Karp (founder of Tumblr) have become well known and their products are a part of everyday life in the United States. David Karp launched Tumblr in 2006 at age 21. Although Karp is extremely successful, he never attended college – debunking the theory that today it is required to obtain a college degree in order to be successful. Instead, Karp had an internship under an animation producer. Thus, it is evident that although college classes such as Underwater Basket Weaving may be meaningless in the work force, it initiates a creative output that can then get students thinking about new ideas that they can turn into a globally recognized internet sensation.
Understandably, it may be viewed that with the debut of many amusing classes at the college level, students are not being adequately prepared to become successful; however, success is not determined by the ability to receive good grades in school and work agreeably in an office setting. Many free spirits have become successful by becoming entrepreneurs and initiating their seemingly eccentric ideas into a usable product. Therefore, the question is not whether colleges should be offering these classes, but whether students can attend these classes and apply the concepts they learned to their lives in order to become successful. Every student has the ability to pull unique experiences from their lives and create something beautiful. Enhancing the imagination and creativity of one’s mind enhances the ability to solve an array of challenges which is the key to becoming a success.