Art and design matter. But don’t just take our word for it.

rainbow painted plaid graphic that says "design matters"

Who are our favourite people? People who are on the same wavelength as us: caring about the arts, quality education, inclusion, and progress. We can’t help it! It’s evolutionary, you know.

We were excited to stumble upon the blog of Dr. Jordan Tinney, superintendent/CEO of the Surrey, BC school board. Dr. Tinney is clearly an enthusiastic thought leader. Peruse his blog and it’s obvious that he’s passionate about learning, inclusion, progress, adaptability. Which is a relief, given his stewardship over a large swath of students’ education.

In his post titled Will the Arts save us from Big Data, he says,

In a fascinating presentation, [Paul Terry] stated that visualization of data is an exploding field and that if you had a way to visualize big data you could make $100-200M in Silicon Valley right now.

This is where I feel the arts come in. We need to reaffirm that beauty and simplicity of the arts as a form of communications. Whether aesthetic, analytic, or emotional, the arts communicates complex messages in simple ways. When it comes to interpreting exabytes of data, perhaps analytics and analysis will be at the crunching phase, but arts may be the piece that communicates the outcomes. If not, how can we possibly believe we can interpret such massive amounts of data?

I used infograhics as one example above and I realize that people might say that infographics are not art. But my message is that we need to think about what graphic or artistic representations may help us make sense of data and how will we continue to reaffirm the value of the arts in schools? The arts aren’t a frill, they are a necessity.

Preach it. Video will communicate a lot of our data and Summit has plans to work this into our curriculum. In the meantime, yes, infographics are fantastic for laying out data and arguments. Where can students learn how to make infographics? A well-taught Yearbook class. 😉 And speaking of video and infographics, here’s a perfect example of both, showing us how useful and pleasurable design can be:

Dr. Tinney also writes in this poignant and well-written post about the need to be adaptable because of technology making many jobs extinct. He says,

Oxford university published an amazing work looking at the potential risk to careers being replaced by technology in the coming years. In an analysis of 702 jobs from teachers to lawyers, to bartenders and fast food hosts, their ranking list is an extraordinary glimpse into just who may be outsourced and I suggest that in a read of the table at the end of the report you may be surprised.  Many of the jobs at risk are in the middle layer, just where I would anticipate the dental lab technicians would exist. A consequence of these jobs disappearing is likely those employees without work are forced to seek employment in positions below their qualifications. Those least qualified end up without work at all. The report states that “According to our estimates, about 47% of total US employment is at risk.” This is an astounding statement and one that should concern us all.

What does this mean for us in education? As we prepare our children for the future this once again seems to underscore the importance of educating for core skills that are timeless in their need. Skills like collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, ingenuity, effective communication are coming to the surface more and more. What once were considered the “soft” skills are now at the top of the list of things that people desire as they look to life after formal schooling.

This perfectly echoes why we are saying design matters.

Lastly, you have no reason to believe that we got a bit misty about this closing statement:

I don’t know what jobs await the children of today but I know that if they have not been exposed to those who ignite their passions and promote their learning in an ongoing way then we should all be concerned. The predetermined career paths that once existed are shifting weekly. If we are to prepare our children then they absolutely must have a strong foundation but most importantly they must be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the future. They must be excellent communicators, they need to be able to take risks and learn from failure, they need to be powerful collaborators who can admit that someone else might have a better idea. They must be able to work well with others and to tolerate the ambiguity of the day. And yes, they must have a strong foundation upon which all these other skills lay. Igniting this passion is the work our teachers do every day.

Yes. Yes. Yes.

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