Music and arts programs in education are under assault with an increasing possibility of being curtailed by legislators and school administrators during each budget session. Despite considerable research on the benefits of how music and arts wire the brain for creativity, cuts continue to happen. Parent and corporate advocacy for these programs have also seen little effect in saving them from being diminished or eliminated. This dynamic does not change because, in the end, it is all about deciding what is the priority in education.
With the pace of innovation constantly accelerating in the modern interconnected world, and as American corporations depend on creative teams to continually innovate, the clear priority is developing the creative skill sets of American students so they can be globally competitive in the future. The only way to achieve this end result is for music and arts to become central to U.S. Education. Though this may be a bold statement, it can be explained and supported from the viewpoint of interconnected education, cognitive and AI (Artificial Intelligence) paradigms.
The Education Paradigm
With relatively minor adjustments, a schoolteacher from 100 years ago would feel right at home within the modern classroom. Other than replacing books with tablets, there has been little system advancement in over a century. In the past, educational excellence meant providing students equal opportunity to learn information that was not easily or publically accessible. Today, information is available for free anywhere and anytime for anyone with Internet access. Therefore, information has become a commodity that no longer has any value in education. The process of forcing students to memorize information and then grading them on how well they regurgitate it is obsolete. Now, memorizing information is mainly needed as a foundation for innovation. The true value in education will reside solely in how students’ minds can be engaged to creatively use, assimilate and transform established information in new ways. This innovation may lead to either a conceptual or physical end product. Only levels and speeds of this creative process should be taught and graded. However, this is rarely happening in U.S. Education.
Consequently, the current state of education has resulted in the failure to achieve the main tenant of the U.S. Department of Education’s mission statement: “global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence”. Therefore, we cannot continue to approach education in the same way and expect different results.
Educators will be forced to experiment with teaching systems for decades to come until the evidence clearly points to a final process to implement. This will be a messy transition with many failures. Generations of students will be caught in the cross hairs of those teaching system experiments. During this transition, students who participate in music and arts programs will be in a classroom experience that will continue to engage their minds to expand creative abilities. But that calls for an explanation of the mind and how music and arts influence it.
The Cognitive Paradigm
While Neuroscience is making progress in understanding the human brain and how to measure intelligence, there is comparatively little progress in understanding the conscious, thinking human mind. Neuroscientists have no serious model of the detailed mechanisms of how the mind actually functions. The widespread assumption is that somehow millions of neurons fire in the brain to produce the mind. They equate brain with mind and intelligence with consciousness, even though each are separate things. So in order to help understand what kind of future education system needs to be implemented, the following advanced model of the mind is given.
The attributes of thought, intuition and emotion cannot originate from a brain cell that dies every 12 years. Furthermore, cells break down into molecules, atoms and subatomic particles. Consequently, there is simply no capacity within the construct of matter to harbor the mind. In computer terminology, the brain is like an adaptive biological motherboard while the mind is a separate operating system that runs and restructures the brain.
The human mind subconsciously saves to memory all sensory information input that the body sees, hears and experiences. Memory is therefore just established information that the mind can access, use and assimilate to attain unique perspectives. In this process, the mind’s force (e.g. volts) and transmission capacity (e.g. amps) is limited by how the physical brain is neurologically wired. It becomes necessary, then, for the brain to be constantly rewired by the mind to accommodate the mind’s force and transmission capacity needs. So the more the mind is stimulated to assimilate information, the more the mind rewires and expands the brain’s capabilities.
But the physical brain offers resistance (e.g. ohms) to the cognitive mind rewiring it. The addition of emotion to this process acts as a catalyst that stimulates the mind to greater output while simultaneously increasing its force to overcome the brain’s resistance. Emotion can range from fear to inspiration and from conflict to harmony. Therefore, having opportunities for students to experience controlled emotion while learning is needed within education. One of the triggers for emotion is the interaction with music and arts. That experience then stimulates the mind to assimilate information in ways that would not have happened otherwise. This ultimately leads to creativity.
So if the purpose of the mind is to create new information then an explanation needs to be given on how it is different from AI.
The AI Paradigm
AI (Artificial Intelligence) technology is constantly improving in its ability to instantly access and deliver relevant information. AI will eventually eliminate all future jobs whose main requirement is using memorized information. Furthermore, AI capabilities are advancing to creatively use, assimilate and transform established information into new information. So AI is already and will continue the process of being able to innovate e.g. IBM’s Watson. This capability alongside advancing (mechanical and then biological) robotics will scale and radically change the role of humans in society. AI will even replace humans performing most of the base functions in the STEM disciplines, just like calculators have replaced the need to do complex arithmetic by hand.
In the future, the only advantage humans will have compared to AI is our aforementioned (non-linear/divergent) thought, intuition and emotion. These unique attributes give humans the potential of innovating new information at such advanced levels and speeds that AI can never attain. Unfortunately, this cannot be achieved if students are not engaged in creativity
Students have been the first to sense the obsolescence of the education system. Ask teachers and they will tell you how students now regurgitate-and-forget information they are learning. The ones who have adapted to play this game the best, receive the best grades. This is just an evolutionary response because they know that memorized information is no longer necessary for their survival. Students are using AI as a tool outside of school every day to source any information they want. Their intuition is telling them that being forced to memorize information in school is essentially relegating them to compete with AI. They instinctively understand this is not just counterproductive, it’s self-defeating.
Students now want and need to become more creative. This corresponds with the demands of an evolving business ecosystem in which corporate survival now depends on the creativity of their adult teams. Consequently, all priorities in U.S. Education now must refocus on how to teach and develop students’ creative skill sets. This, and only this, will keep America competitive in the 21st century. But currently, few classes in school other than music and arts stimulate creativity. That is why music and fine arts are essential in education.
Evidence for these paradigms, along with documentation on the ultimate education system that will empower American Exceptionalism to lead the world can be found on: AntonKrutz.com/education
Written by Anton Krutz