Creative Technology & Art: Bringing Diversity to Education
New values, changing cultural norms, and a better understanding of the world around us have introduced a new facet to the education system. Increasingly, educators, parents, and entrepreneurs have considered the importance of incorporating lessons of diversity into the classroom. Innovation has always been valued highly, and it’s an integral competent to growth. As technology continues to shape the future of education, there’s a demand for new education standards to reflect the globalization the world. Artists and tech-experts have entered the discussion with creative ideas for encouraging multiple perspectives within the learning environments.
One of the major advantages of technology is the way it brings the world closer together, and those interested in forming a better future have invested time and effort in exploring the possibilities of technology within the education realm. Creative technology initiatives and new aesthetic approaches fuse the familiar with the unknown, allowing children to get a well-rounded education.
Raghava KK is an artist, entrepreneur, tech-enthusiast, and co-founder of the tech incubator, Flipsicle. The vision behind the incubator is to support initiatives and create a “visual internet.” In an article for TechCrunch, Raghava writes about the need to “collect invaluable insights about the way we think,” and the visual form being the most effective way of doing so. Steeped richly in the worlds of art and technology, Raghava finds that the two are interconnected.
“Art and tech are two eyes on the same body. Open one eye and view this beautiful world of ours. Open the other and you envision a richness you can’t articulate. Brought together—the objective and the subjective—they hand us immensely rich insights into who we are and how we think.”
The incubator is a much later initiative, and one that follows years of art and technological innovation. Already making a name for himself as an artist, Raghava shot to fame after presenting his children’s book app at a 2010 INK conference in India. It was later formally announced at TED Global 2011 in Edinburgh, Scotland. The app followed a family through common daily routines—eating breakfast, brushing their teeth—with one very interesting twist. If you shake it, the family members change to show different gender couples. His goal is to teach as many perspectives to children as possible.
MyFamilyBuilders works from the same perspective Raghava’s app does: if we teach children about the various aspect of diversity from an early age, they’ll grow up understanding the value of differences. It won’t be question of acceptance or tolerance for them: it’ll be as natural a part of the world as the sky is. But technology isn’t the only tool to help construct such a future: MyFamilyBuilders is a magnetic toy set that allows kids to rearrange up to 2607 variations of a family to find one that most accurately describes kinds of family dynamics they may be experiencing.
“Every day, children play with toys that impose limitations on their perception of family. We believe a single, engaging toy can transform a child’s play from simple to symbolic, from repetitive to inventive, from solitary to social.”
It’s a big jump from the traditional toys that have been sold of for decades that showcases the “typical” family, with a mother, a father, a son, and a daughter—when the so-called “typical” has changed, so should the toys kids surround themselves with.
It’s an ambitious goal to change the face of education, but there are still alternatives that exist for parents and educators who believe in a multifaceted education and want children to have a more creative learning experience.
NuVu aims to do just that. A “school” of sorts in Cambridge, NuVu was founded by MIT PhD student Saeed Arida in 2010 and aims to encourage students aged 11-17 through “hands-on problem-solving to solve complex, comprehensive problems.” Each semester has a theme, and students take part in four intensive two-week 9 a.m.–3 p.m. sessions. During the regular academic semester, local schools can opt to send a select group of students.
It’s a unique approach to education, but one that NuVu is trying to normalize by consulting with schools to introduce new teaching methods and projects the school can put in place themselves.
Every person that worked on any of these projects or initiatives is functioning on the same level: it’s time to embrace technology and incorporate it creatively into children’s lives so that they can grow up with a greater cultural understanding of the world around them.
Suchita is a student at Emerson College, where she is pursuing a BFA in Writing, Literature, & Publishing for poetry with a Global & Post-Colonial Studies minor. She has been published in Verge Magazine (Canada) and Affairs Today (UK).