What’s the most popular TED Talk of all time?
With an astounding 52 million views, it’s the influential voice of Sir Ken Robinson asking, Do schools kill creativity?1 Since the question was originally posed back in 2006, Robinson’s theory has infiltrated not only the classroom but the workplace. His theory is that, in an unpredictable and increasingly digital world, creativity is vital to innovation. And if a school’s purpose is to educate a future workforce, then it stands to reason that what is taught should support the emerging needs of today’s economy.
Traditional education systems, however, were designed for a different economy in a different time. Consider a single math problem—many of our past experiences would show our time in the classroom focused on memorizing the path to the right answer with our teachers focused on helping students avoid mistakes. It was all about the correct answer. That, according to Robinson, was why going to school and getting a degree didn’t necessarily guarantee students a job.
According to LinkedIn data, 57 percent of leaders believe soft skills are more important than hard skills—perhaps because they are difficult to teach and even affect our ability to learn or expand new hard skills.2
Schools today are responding to the 21st-century economy by cultivating 21st-century learners. Understanding that innovation and creative problem-solving are what future employers are desperately seeking, students are encouraged to take that same math equation and, rather than just finding the correct answer, they take it apart and examine it from multiple angles. One example of this change is an instructional strategy known as reverse instruction or the flipped classroom.
What is the Flipped Classroom? The concept itself is simple—students read or watch videos or somehow engage with curriculum content on their own, focusing in-class time on group activities and collaboration. Successful implementation has been seen to lead to improved grades, greater motivation, and increased engagement from students.3
It’s not so much about what students learn, but instead, it’s about how they learn. The teacher’s focus has also shifted away from the correct answer; classroom time is spent encouraging divergent thinking in students, which requires nurturing creativity—it’s all about the learner.
What does this mean for corporate recruiting? In the ongoing war for talent, organizations can look to the way high-performing students are educated to predict their needs and expectations when they enter the workforce. And, if Sir Ken Robinson is right, supporting their creativity will bring value through innovation.
We’ve outlined four key cultural components organizations should consider to attract the best and brightest:
- Flexibility—Students of the educational revolution have grown accustomed to a personalized, organic approach in their education, so job candidates will be looking for a workplace that considers their continuing development. According to a recent Deloitte study, the skills younger generations desire most are: interpersonal skills, confidence and motivation, critical thinking, and innovation and creativity.4 Like the flipped classroom, future employees want the time and flexibility needed to develop these skills—at work, around their peers, and in a comfortable, supportive environment.
- Accountability—Sending students home with pre-homework is no simple feat. It requires respect and accountability. If fostered correctly, it can lead them to greater engagement and increased motivation. The same goes for employees—setting an agenda for a meeting isn’t just the latest fad; it’s an effective way to share both expectations of preparation for the group and information to be discussed ahead of time. Team members are then able to develop questions in advance and focus the meeting on workshopping and advancing ideas for the project, resulting in a much more engaging meeting.
- Mobility—Movement is a means of inspiring creativity. Whether heading into the office after a focused work-from-home morning or simply getting a change of scenery within the office, physical spaces that are varied and convenient help keep any part of a process moving forward. Be it a solo, team, or community need, the top workplaces understand that a space designed to support user activities and improve overall experience yields more productivity and value. There’s a reason the classroom layout is changing, too—not everyone thrives behind a desk all day.
- Community—Good ideas become great ones in a group. The ability to troubleshoot challenges and solutions within a group is where we find true growth. Students today are encouraged to help teach each other by working through problems together. We can maximize our greatest resources—people and their time—by providing ample opportunity to connect and grow with others.
Relevant Article: What Your Workplace and the Rolling Stones Have in Common
We’ll let you in on a secret—these aren’t new ideas. As early as 1993, Alison King in From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side hailed the importance of active learning and the transformation of the role the teacher plays. The breakthrough King shared is that our brains are not “an empty container with which the professor pours knowledge.”5 The classroom has been changing—it’s a clearer reflection of the human experience and how we learn.
And if you’re wondering how to win over high-performing talent, the solution is not to pour knowledge on them. Ask yourself—Does your workplace facilitate a space where individuals can interact, ideate, and solve real problems? Or, in the words of Sir Ken Robinson—Does your workplace kill creativity?
1. Robinson, Ken. ”Do Schools Kill Creativity?” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading. February 2006. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.
2. Berger, Guy. ”Data Reveals The Most In-demand Soft Skills Among Candidates.” LinkedIn Talent Blog. August 30, 2016. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2016/most-indemand-soft-skills.
3. ”Flipped Classroom Infographic.” Knewton. Accessed September 13, 2018. https://www.knewton.com/infographics/flipped-classroom/.
4. ”Millennial Survey 2018 | Deloitte | Social Impact, Innovation. ” The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2018. August 23, 2018. Accessed September 17, 2018. https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html.
5. King, Alison. ”From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. ” JSTOR From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side. January 01, 1993. Accessed September 17, 2018. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27558571?origin=JSTOR-pdf&seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.