It seems that education is directly under attack. Whether it is economic circumstance or a concerted “conspiracy” to dumb down the general population, there is a growing and significant need for people with diverse and comprehensive educational experience (and this is not limited to university!). Certainly there are specific specialty needs; however, beyond the particulars of those fields, the overwhelming lack of a diverse and “liberal” education has resulted in the imaginative wasteland that we are now experiencing.
We are in desperate need of an environment of comprehensive and “wildly” inventive imagination. We face a multiplicity of challenges: over population, peak oil—water—food, predatory globalization, loss of culture, religious and political extremism, and poverty to name a few; and likely the most stunning challenge, an atmosphere and attitude of “no-opportunity.”
It has been said that many of the tragic events that have plagued us over this last generation are the result of a “lack of imagination.” Wars, attacks, economic turmoil, etc. are the oft-cited examples of this condition. Rarely, however, is there an effort to understand or address the underlying problem. If 911 occurred because of a “lack of imagination” (according to the 911 Congressional Commission), then why have we not collectively addressed “imagination” in an effort at ameliorating our perceived threats? Further, we might assume that the myriad other issues of fuel, water, food, finance, etc. will require a dynamic and functioning imagination—but, sadly, this is rarely contemplated. To honestly engage with these issues, we must take this observation as an invitation to make effective change. We must also consider that the assault on education is utterly counter intuitive for where we are headed.
These issues and more are lurking on the edges of every significant conversation about our place in the world. What is the answer? Most of us “cannot imagine,” and THAT is the real root of the problem. So what do we do? The answer is likely the most obvious, and the most overlooked or ignored—invest in the tools of imagination. Collectively and individually, encouraging imagination and creativity might be the single most important thing we as individuals, a society, a country, and a species do for ourselves. We have come to the place where, in a fast changing world, it falls to us individually and micro-collectively to provoke and cultivate the imagination, to encourage new and thoughtful creation, and to support those efforts that are actively pursuing innovative answers to the issues of the day. This is a responsibility that clearly belongs each of us.