We can learn from the humanities, which develop original thinking skills much earlier. Creative domains from writing to the arts emphasize the “doing” and “creating” components, rather than just absorbing knowledge. Artists are asked to dissect and criticize, to express and defend opinions.
Particularly in the arts, the focus is on doing from the word go; an individual goal of perfection is a goal at the end. At its best, art does not solve problems; it creates questions. It brings the ability to think with a clean slate, to begin with broad, unstructured initial thinking, followed by painstaking attention to detail. It shows us the world under new, sometimes unrecognizable, light. Seeing things in a completely new fashion is ultimately what innovation is about. [. . .]
The consumption-production balance must be altered in science and engineering. We would be wise to embrace humanities in our students’ education, but also to embrace the balance between learning and doing that arts and humanities provide. Our students must develop even stronger critical thinking skills to identify the real problems that we face and to understand the implications of their solutions. We will all benefit from it.