Do you remember Hydra, the multi-headed, snakelike water monster from Greek mythology? According to the myth, Hydra possesses multiple heads and has a regeneration capacity. For each head that is chopped off, two new ones regrow in its place. Similar to the legend, we need to tackle those multiple and deeply intertwined heads at once. If not, the risk is that they may continue growing and multiplying.

Why does it matter? The global pandemic has exposed our new VUCAH (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous and Hyper-connected) world order. We increasingly need creative, agile, collaborative minds. This is exactly what employers are telling us, too. Creativity, persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence are the most-in-demand skills today, according to LinkedIn’s 2020 employer survey.

But here is the catch: Our children are growing in precisely the opposite direction. They are less mentally healthy, less empathetic and less creative than they were at the beginning of the decade. We have a rising imbalance between the supply of creative, collaborative, healthy young minds, and the demand for such talent. And I believe education has a major role to play in addressing this imbalance, starting in the early years.

A Three-Headed Crisis 

  1. Our mental health crisis.  Our country has been called, provocatively, the “United States of Anxiety.” That’s not wrong. In January 2021, 40 percent of adults reported experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety—three times more than the rate in the first half of 2019.
  2. Our empathy and human connection crisis. Levels of empathy in youth fell by nearly half between 1979 and 2009. The good news is that the current crisis has triggered a resurgence of compassion and empathy. Empathy, as a theme, is trending.
  3. Our creativity crisis. More than half of young people ages 18-25 are feeling seriously lonely. Creativity has been on the decline for the past three decades. Some experts estimate that 85 percent of children became less creative between 1990 and 2008. According to updated research in 2017, the creativity crisis has grown worse and is impacting the youngest age groups the most.

Read the full article about the three-headed crisis after the pandemic by Isabelle Hau at EdSurge.