I worked at a wonderful regional conference last week in Southern Illinois, put on by their Regional Office of Education #21. While strolling through the exhibitors hall, a woman came up and asked if she could talk with me about a project that she was involved in. The project is called Brain Drain, and seeks to address a rising problem in Rural parts of this country (and I suspect other countries), where the educated and creative young are leaving their hometowns, and moving to cities for a variety of reasons.
That conversation brought me back to the talk by Richard Florida (Flight of the Creative Class) that I attended a few weeks ago, and his insistence that while the world is becoming flatter, it is also becoming more spiky, that more and more people are moving to few and fewer places.
I shared with her, Forida’s finding, through a Gallup Poll, that the two greatest factors in determining how happy a person is with where they live are aesthetics (the sensual appealingness) of the place, and their ability to express themselves freely. This seems to me to indicate an importance in integrating art, design, and music into the curriculums of small town schools, to provide students and the community with a rich visual and musical environment, that celebrates diversity, self-expression, and creativity.