For seven years now, the organization has served as an incubator of new models for learning, with the goal of discovering the teaching methods best suited to foster innovation and problem solving in students. Here, artistic expression and collaborative thinking go hand in hand. According to the Construct Foundation’s president and founder, Gina Condon, the arts are a vital component to teach “design thinking,” a problem-solving mindset that prepares students to approach problems creatively.
“Businesses are demanding these kinds of programs,” says Condon. “Students need to learn how to be creative problem solvers. The creativity and the things students learn as part of these art projects can translate into problem-solving exercises that industry is looking for.”
Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, who represents Oregon’s 1st Congressional District, believes our ability to teach the arts is vital to our global competitiveness. The congresswoman has been a consistent champion of changing STEM into STEAM (the “A” stands for the arts) at the national level.
“Nobel laureates in the sciences have been much more likely to have had arts training,” she explains. “As we move toward the jobs of the future, technical skills aren’t going to be as important as critical thinking. They have good test scores in China, but they’re not having a party about it because they aren’t creating things,” she says, quoting former University of Oregon professor Yong Zhao.