Last week, while I was rushing around getting ready to leave for work, I was stopped in my tracks by a snippet of an NPR radio announcement playing in the background. The broadcaster was speaking about an upcoming interview with Paul Tough that was going to be aired later in the day. The words that I heard were something like, “curiosity and self control are better predictors of success than intelligence and test scores.”
This statement lingered in my mind throughout the day. It was reminiscent of a wonderful keynote address that I heard at an early childhood conference a few years ago. The speaker was the astrophysicist and director of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium, Neill deGrasse Tyson. His speech was unlike any other keynote that I’d heard before and I literally got goose bumps listening to him. His major point was that when he, or any other executive, interviewed a potential worker, he was never interested in the persons test scores or grade point average from high school or college. What he looked for in a candidate was the ability to think creatively and, as he said, “out of the box”. He also looked for someone with good social skills.
Schools today are being pressured to place their major emphasis on prepping students for standardized tests and pushing them towards reaching some predetermined reading levels which MUST be met by the end of the school year. Perhaps high test scores and reading levels can be achieved on a yearly timeline but at what cost to the child and to society?
If we consider the wise words of Mr. Tough and Mr. Tyson, we might question whether or not we are really preparing children to be successful adults when we implement curriculums that drain them of their creativity and eliminate opportunities for activities that encourage and enhance the development of social skills?
When I first saw this video of Caine’s Arcade on the Internet, it provoked me towards considering these thoughts: How did Caine think up this incredible project? What allowed him to stay with it for such a long time? What might have prevented him from (no pun intended) thinking out of the box? How can schools support this type of thinking and stamina? Could Caine have thought this up, worked through problems and produced this marvelous project if he had to keep to a timetable for completing it?