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Arts Education Provides ‘Survival Skills’ Businesses Need

Sarah Murr

In Tony Wagner’s book The Global Achievement Gap, he writes that “the Global Achievement Gap is the gap between what our best schools are teaching and testing versus the skills that all students will need for careers, college, and citizenship in the 21st century.”

Wagner based this book on extensive interviews not with educators, but with corporations.

Those interviews led Wagner to develop the “Seven Survival Skills…people need in order to discuss, understand, and offer leadership to solve some of the most pressing issues we face as a democracy in the 21st century”:

1.    Critical thinking and problem solving
2.    Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
3.    Agility and adaptability
4.    Initiative and entrepreneurship
5.    Effective oral and written communication
6.    Accessing and analyzing information
7.    Curiosity and imagination

These are the same skills we’ve seen in various reports, presentations, and articles as the ones needed to develop, create, sustain, and grow business. These “survival skills” should be mastered to succeed in work and life. And, oh by the way, they are acquired through an education which includes the arts.

These skills ensure workplace success whether that worker is an engineer, actor, lawyer, factory worker, clerk, artist, or writer. Arts education is an essential component of a strong academic foundation, giving students the flexibility for whatever path they choose–whether it is the workforce or a community or four-year college.

Today’s knowledge-based economy requires workers who can think creatively, solve problems, exercise individual responsibility, and interact effectively with others.

At Boeing, we believe that children deserve access to high quality education and opportunities to develop skills that will enable them to realize their dreams. We believe that if students are offered a complete education, one that fosters creativity and innovative thinking, then all those “survival skills” are achievable.

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