Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The "Creative Class" Discovers Homeschooling

Businessweek had an interesting article last year all about how many of the so-called "creative class" parents have turned to homeschooling.

Unlike the previous generation of homeschoolers, their primary motivation isn't religion but academics. According to the BW article, they feel current schools "are like old industrial assembly lines, churning out conformists who could function well in rote factory jobs or rigid corporate hierarchies but not in New Economy professions that demand innovation and independent thinking."

Given that we live in an affluent suburb near Silicon Valley, it's no surprise that many of the homeschoolers we know fit into this category. We didn't start out with this motivation for homeschooling but more and more I'm coming around to it.

Professor Richard Florida writes in The Rise of the Creative Class that: "The distinguishing characteristic of the creative class is that its members engage in work whose function is to 'create meaningful new forms'....Members of this super-creative core produce new forms or designs that are readily transferable and broadly useful---such as designing a product that can be widely made, sold and used; coming up with a theorem or strategy that can be applied in many cases; or composing music that can be performed again and again. Beyond this core group, the creative class also includes 'creative professionals' who work in a wide range of knowledge-intensive industries such as high-tech sectors, financial services, the legal and healthcare professions, and business management. These people engage in creative problem-solving, drawing on complex bodies of knowledge to solve specific problems....What they are required to do regularly is think on their own. They apply or combine standard approaches in unique ways to fit the situation, exercise a great deal of judgment, perhaps try something radically new from time to time."

Traditional schools focus primarily on the "knowledge" and to a lesser extent the "comprehension" competencies of Bloom's Taxonomy. Success in the "creative class" jobs requires mastery of the "application", "analysis", "synthesis", and "evaluation" competencies. Traditional schools typically rely on "drill-and-kill" rote memorization followed by regurgitation on multiple-choice, true/false, or fill-in-the-blank exams. After taking the tests, students promptly forget the majority of the material. Is it any wonder that most graduates of traditional schools are ill-prepared for "creative class" type jobs?

No comments: