The news lately has been inundated by education cuts, stock market woes, and the oil spill. I believe all three things are related and here’s why:
The Newshour with Jim Lehrer featured a Paul Solmon interview of Harvard economist Ben Friedman titled Financial Crisis Does Little to Dim Graduates’ Wall Street Aspirations. The smartest of the smart college students are choosing Wall Street instead of “creative” jobs. Friedman: “And, for that reason, it’s all the more troubling when I think that, after they leave us, so many of them go into activities that are not economically productive for the country, for society, even, just narrowly, for the economy.” Why? Money. Wall Street pays more. Derivatives and bets become more exciting than figuring out how to cap an oil well a mile under the ocean.
Friedman: “I think it’s a very serious issue for our society, how we allocate resources in general and scarce resources in particular, and the high-end, super talented, super energetic, super creative young people have to be one of our most valuable, scarcest resources.” Bottom line, we need our smartest to have the imagination to solve problems and have access to all fields. I can’t help to wonder, why has it taken so long to cap the oil spill? Has greed squeezed out the creativity to solve problems?
I don’t know for sure but when the economy gets bad, the arts are first to go in education. The answer isn’t always clear but often difficult. However, we need the creativity to help find solutions to problems. That starts at a very young age and with a child’s imagination.