School children should be encouraged to indulge their creative side and not have it stamped out, said Jane O’Meara Sanders, wife and senior political adviser to former US presidential Democratic candidate, Bernie Sanders.
Speaking in Limerick, Ms O’Meara Sanders, who is the founding member of US think tank The Sanders Institute, said children should be encouraged in their education to “think outside the box”. As leaders of the future, this may help them realise better solutions to the many social, environmental, and economic problems facing the world.
Taking part in a panel discussion at University of Limerick on The Creative Agenda in Education, Ms O’Meara Sanders added: “What we need to do is not stamp out the curiosity in our schools, but to actually encourage it, and to reward it, and instil the confidence to be able to be wrong; to be able to be different; and to be able to be thinking of things that nobody else has.”
“I think, that without the focus on instilling the capability of creativity in our young people, throughout their lives, we are not going to be able to have much of an impact on the problems that we are facing,” she said.
Monica Spenser, a literacy tutor and a member of the Arts Council of Ireland, said “artistic intervention” in schools was extremely important for encouraging creativity and “broadening horizons” of students.
Ms Spenser highlighted how the Transition Year programme helped achieve this, and that the programme also let students consider their options while taking time out from the full academic year.
Senator Sanders has sought political support for legislation proposing free education in US public colleges and universities.
According to US media reports, more than 44m Americans have a combined student loan debt totalling $1.4tn (€1.18tn).
Ms O’Meara Sanders commented: “Higher education is extremely expensive, and it blocks people who are quite capable and very interested in getting a better education for themselves from doing so.”
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