The Case of the Twenty Somethings

It is too often that twenty something year olds blame the economy for the lack of jobs. Maybe it’s because they’re lazy, or not qualified. Perhaps it is because they lack creativity. Maybe, then, it is time to start pointing the finger at educational systems, not the economy.

Time Magazine recently did an interview with Robin Marantz Henig and her daughter Samantha Henig, who co-wrote the book Twenty Something: Why do Young adults seem stuck? When asked what advice do you have for 20somethings, Samantha said, “…there are these big decisions facing you and if you feel overwhelmed, there’s good cause and it doesn’t speak to failure on your part.”

What it does speak to however is the lack of creativity in educational systems.

While speaking at a TED conference in 2006, Sir Ken Robinson, an author, speaker, and advisor on education, creativity and innovation, made a profound and compelling case for creating educational systems that nurture, rather than undermine creativity.

He said, “We don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or education grows you out of it.” The reason for this is that human talent and creativity is diverse, yet there exists no diversity in educational systems.

It’s become a general pattern to see young adults in their twenties not know what they want to do with their lives. This doesn’t necessarily mean they lack the ambition or the drive to pursue a career they find enticing and interesting, but it does suggest that they haven’t had the right training or background to have things figured out at such an age.

Creativity is crucial to the future of this generation. But the education system needs to cultivate it rather than stifle it. This will never happen unless students are given the right environment and curriculum to do so. Standardizations that target only specific types of people need to be challenged. The human imagination works in different ways and there should be no one-way of learning.

A recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future. The development of creativity is a global priority, not only because the twenty something year olds can play a key role in challenging traditional systems of education and its impacts, but also because they can contribute and shape the future, in education and elsewhere.