We need a new Medici Effect, A New Renaissance.

I’m really in a philosophical twist about education of late. On the one hand is math, science, engineering, and that skill set. On the other is creativity and art. No one wants just one of these two, I understand that, but this weekend I’ve caught up on some reading and some video that showcase different sides to the topic.

Math and Science:

Over to HBR is a blog titled Why Dubai Defaulted — And What America Should Learn From It by Umair Haque. He is running a theme of late that I really agree with about thick value and thin value. Thick value is a marketplace need whereas thin value is a type of market tax (fee) on that thick value. In example, thick value is a mortgage and thin value is the processing fee.
One part of the entry Haque gets into how Dubai tried to grow without installing an education base to support and evolve it. The city state tried to buy this type of credibility by giving tax breaks to companies like IBM and Dell. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing, it just can’t be the only strategy. A schooling infrastructure is needed if Dubai was ever going to be more than an Atlantic City in the desert.

Which makes me think about something in my neck of the woods. Just north east of Charlotte is something called the North Carolina Research Campus. It was built by David Murdock, owner of Dole Foods, as a place to seed ideas about nutrition, health, and biotechnology research. The center pulls from the local universities as well as from the private industry. It’s this type of coming together of thought leaders that first cultivates next level advancements and then acts as a catalyst for other ideas. I imagine this area to be a hotbed similar to silicon valley in 10 to 15 years.

Back to schooling. Today on 60 Minutes was an overview of Harlem Children’s Zone, which incorporates the Promise Academy Charter Schools. Geoffrey Canada is the lead of the schools and 60 Minutes is doing a show it because it’s had tremendous success, particularly in Math, Science, and the Language Arts. The success is because of the no nonsense rigid method of teaching. No one falls out of line. Here is the video:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Creativity and Art:

The Museum of Modern Art or MOMA is running an exhibit on Tim Burton. He is the guy behind Beetle Juice, Edward Scissor Hands, and The Nightmare Before Christmas, just to name a few. He did Charlie Rose and said some things I really liked. The part that got me the most though was at the 3:20 minute mark when they start talking about kids and drawing. Burton says that he notices that kid’s drawings are all great and then at a certain point they drop off. He says that somewhere along the line these kids were told they weren’t good at drawing and the system begins to beat it out of them.

That is what has me twisted up. It is always good to have engineers, math whizzes, and scientists. But people don’t exist simply for commerce. We still need those who create simply for the form or design. We need those that fall outside of the norm, who see the world differently, who don’t conform. I like to listen music, read a poem, and watch a movie. Others might like cooking, architecture, painting, and fashion. My point is that although we need to invest in science and math, we can’t completely emulate foreign countries approach to teaching it. Summer is valuable, travel is too. Mental exploration can’t happen if teaching for a test is goal of education. We need a new Medici Effect. A new Renaissance.


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