Creativity For All
October 16, 2020
This back to school season is dramatically different from any in recent memory, and with it, inequities that have long persisted in our education system have been exacerbated for students, families, and educators. As schools across the country shift to remote and hybrid learning models, innovation and creativity are more important than ever to ensure this is not a lost year academically, socially, or emotionally, especially for the students who are being disproportionately affected by school closures.
Since March, school teachers and leaders have been working tirelessly to acclimate their communities to a new way of learning: online. Distance and hybrid learning bring both benefits and challenges. Digital access can play a monumental role in expanding opportunities for different types of learners in literature and language arts, history and social studies, science and other subjects by catalyzing creativity, communication, and storytelling. Digital access and tools also provide educators with resources and supports no matter where they’re based. However, while digital tools present limitless opportunity, without broad access they can also unintentionally deepen existing inequities. When we talk about the digital divide—the estimated 15-16 million students without broadband access or devices to enable sustained remote learning—we’re also talking about educational inequity.
The digital divide doesn’t just mean lack of access to devices and the connectivity required to get online; it can also mean lack of access to the software and digitally-enhanced curricula available to students, including creative tools, platforms, lesson plans, and tutorials. This is important, because engaging in creative thinking allows students to develop the knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed to succeed.
We see hope and progress in closing the digital divide and in igniting creativity through partnerships like the one we have with Adobe. Teach For America and Adobe share the belief that everyone is creative and that everyone should have equitable access to resources and opportunities to unleash creative thinking and problem-solving in every subject. The Teach For America-Adobe Partnership helps create the next generation of creative thinkers and problem solvers who will have the knowledge, skills, and mindsets to take on the increasingly complex challenges our society faces, regardless of whether those are developed in-person or virtually.
With so many more schools in distance learning now, it’s imperative we ensure every teacher and student has the resources to infuse creativity into a virtual environment. We are working together to make sure that this is the case for educators and students in some of our most under-resourced communities. Together, we’re focused on a multi-pronged partnership that provides Teach For America’s over 15,000 educators with distance learning lesson plans, how to bring creative design into any lesson, and the fundamentals of teaching online, with the goal of empowering their creativity and providing lessons that support students’ socio-emotional and creative wellbeing during an incredibly stressful experience.
We believe that this partnership is not only supporting students during the pandemic, but contributing to their long-term development and success in school, careers, and civic life. Our students are the future leaders and innovators in their communities and our country. We need to ensure that they’re equipped with the skills necessary in the 21st-century workforce, which will require creative thinking and problem solving. If we get this right, we will be able to help students harness this difficult time to imagine and create new opportunities for themselves and for others. The stakes are too high to do so otherwise.