The value of inclusiveness and diversity is undeniable,
so all talents should be nurtured
This fall’s cohort of kindergarteners will graduate from high school in 2026. With the pace of technological change in our society faster than ever before, we have no idea how the world and the workplace will look then, what tools they will need to be agents in the transformation of their world or what they will need to be successful. We do know, however, that to prepare the class of 2026 and beyond, our educational system requires diversity, inclusiveness and open-mindedness.
We often hear the drumbeat for improved and expanded education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, and the reasons are fairly obvious. A U.S. Department of Commerce study in 2012 titled “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States” indicated that innovation is “the key driver of competitiveness, wage and job growth, and long-term economic growth.” The report went on to say that innovation “requires basic research, education and state-of-the-art infrastructure. In this context, making college more affordable, spurring classroom innovation at all levels, expanding the size and quality of the STEM teacher ranks, and encouraging and facilitating students’ and workers’ continued STEM education are critical. Education is the centerpiece of the advancement of industrial and technological competitiveness.”
Indeed, sometimes it is difficult to restrain the excitement imagining what lies ahead, and few would argue against the importance of STEM education and training. But we should be clear that we don’t have to make a choice between STEM and such things as art programs. Rather, we should choose to nurture everyone’s talents in the classroom.
Education needs a transformation, to borrow the words of Ken Robinson, an author and expert on creativity. Education needs a transformation where testing is a diagnostic tool and not necessarily an end in itself; where strong STEM, arts and social-sciences programs are integrated into multidisciplinary themes as opposed to the traditional isolated subjects; where the overarching goal is discovering and developing the talent in all; and where learning by doing and learning by using all human abilities, mental and physical, are valued. This is a transformation that recognizes intelligence not as a quantity measured by a score but as an individual quality that is tremendously dynamic. It is a transformation that conceives that creativity is in all — not a possession of only a certain few. By developing everyone’s talents, we are sure to spur and foster innovation in all fields of human curiosity.
In the workplace, the principle of diversity is reflected in the interplay among different fields of endeavor and human activity. This includes a consideration of different points of view; the active engagement of different peoples; collaboration among disparate academic departments (anthropologists and computer scientists, psychologists and economists); and the thoughtful organization of scientific meetings where the sessions are pointed toward broad problems and are tackled by multidisciplinary approaches.
That inclusiveness and diversity work is exemplified by a study published in February that found diversity in the composition of the authors contributing to scientific papers leads to significant and important scientific contributions.
By adopting the value of diversity as a guiding principle, we will all, young and adult, be better off.