Steve Gould Opening Reflections

Dr. Stephen Gould prepared these opening reflections for the Ikeda Forum seminar "Creativity, Peace Building and Education," held on May 14, 2014. His co-presenter was Dr. Bernice Lerner. Gould and Lerner engaged in dialogue with Boston-area university students.

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Our society and the world in general are faced with formidable challenges. Creativity, peace building and education are seen as critical to maintaining a just society. Making creativity, peace building and education an integral part of our lives and the lives of others can be a daunting task.

I have been working in schools for the better part of my life as a musician, teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, and working with people in schools as a consultant and as a director of the Education Leadership PhD program at Lesley University. In schools, the demands of policymakers and the bureaucracy often distract educators from the real challenges and rob them of the time they need to face the challenges at hand. The default setting is usually to react to the top down demands of others in turn school leaders often become more about “command and control” themselves. As a result, schools and the people within them become unproductive, less compassionate and end up lost.

What is the role of schools? Isn’t it to prepare students to be productive, contributing members of a global society? Doesn’t education have the potential to develop, in people, the capacity to create value that benefits citizens, society and the future? The fixation with student achievement has distracted policymakers and educators from preparing students with the knowledge, thinking and leadership skills needed to create value that benefits all citizens, society and the future. Shouldn’t we resist the demands of others for control, combat distraction, and remain deliberate and disciplined in making our schools places where creativity and peace building play a central role?

Michael Fullan, the Canadian academic, writer, and educational consultant suggests that a good education should address the following elements in six categories: 1) character involving ethics behavior; 2) citizenship that focuses on taking personal responsibility and valuing others; 3) communication; 4) critical thinking, reasoning and problem-solving; 5) collaboration; and 6) imagination and creativity. These elements and values are all reinforced in the writings of Mr. Ikeda. These elements and values are all critical to the mission and work of the Ikeda Center. These elements and values are all critical to our lives and future. And yet to what degree are these elements and values part of our lives, and integral to education?

Tonight we will explore creativity, peace building and education.

When I think of creativity, peace building and education, I think of interconnectivity. I see creativity, peace building and education as being all interconnected.

When I think of creativity, I think of head, heart and hand and their interconnectedness to each other and to creativity. When I think of peace building, I think in terms of dream, design, deliver and their interconnectedness to each other and to peace building. When I think of education, I think of imagination, curiosity, perspiration and their interconnectedness toe ach other and to education.

Head, heart and hand; dream, design, deliver; and imagination, curiosity, perspiration are all interconnected to each other and interconnected to creativity, peace, building and education. Creativity, peace building and education and all their interconnected, component parts are one big web of interconnectedness.

Creativity involves making something that is valued. But can creativity be taught? Peace building involves perspective taking and understanding that we can be successful without succeeding at the expense of others. But can peace building be taught? How might schools become places where value is created for creativity and peace building? Value creation – that benefits citizens, society and the future – is a collaborative, synergistic process – but can value creation be taught? One thing is certain, the conditions in which creativity, peace building and value creation can occur—can be provided in schools. What are these conditions – and to what degree are these conditions present in schools today? I will leave you with those questions and thoughts  -- to be continued, no doubt, during this dialogue.

 

 

 

 

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