School’s Out for Summer

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Image by Pawel Loj*

In “Untapped Creativity Needs Instruction That’s Engaging,” an August 19 commentary piece for the Toledo Blade, Marilou Johanek discusses Camp Invention, a program of Invent Now Kids. The camp is “geared to promoting … creativity in primary education” and includes activities such as taking apart old appliances to build new inventions, making an imaginary city more environmentally sound, and figuring out how to survive on an unknown planet called Zak. Johanek sometimes worries that school curricula designed solely to boost standardized test scores do not give students opportunities to stretch their imaginations and creativity. But at Camp Invention, it is precisely “[t]hrough imaginative play [that campers] are exposed to curricula aligned with state and national standards.” This approach seems to balance imaginative learning with accountability—just the sort of balance that we at Lincoln Center Institute advocate. It ensures that young people learn the basics they may be tested on, but does so without limiting their personal exploratory freedom. It is likely that participants in this kind of program will be better prepared for their futures as adults: the combination of knowledge and self-directed discovery that the camp fosters is an asset to any effective leader, decision-maker, or citizen.

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