Newsweek suggests, Americans are really in the midst of a creativity crisis, it's not simply our creative endeavors that are in trouble. If our abilities to innovate and solve problems are on the decline, the future of American entrepreneurship may be in jeopardy as well.If, as we wrote about last week and
But even if we ignore claims about falling creativity quotients, it's hard to overlook some of the other statistics that indicate kids may not be equipped to become future business leaders. According to JumpStart, a non-profit organization that promotes financial education, 95% of high school seniors are financially illiterate.
Farmville Meets Mint.com
To help address this, the startup Zindagi is building an online tool that blends social gaming, problem solving, education and hands-on money management experience to help teach kids financial literacy skills. "Think Farmville meets Mint.com," says its website.
Zindagi is aimed at students age 10-15 and plans to offer a lengthy and substantive curriculum since, according to co-founder Jason Young, gaining financial literacy skills take a deep and ongoing engagement. It also requires involvement - investment, even - from adults, and it is designed with parents and children in mind. Zindagi will require monthly subscriptions, although there are plans for discounted and free licenses for schools and nonprofits.
To Win the Game: Start Your Own Business
Unlike other games, educational and otherwise, that use virtual currency, Young says Zindagi will use real money. "The concept is really simple: Instead of trying to make games more life-like, Zindagi makes use of the fact that real life is already one big game." As kids master concepts like budgeting and saving, they accrue financial rewards themselves. The ultimate goal of the game will be to help kids start their own businesses.
Despite receiving some of the blame for kids' falling creativity scores, it may be that games and technology programs like Zindagi's help spark, rather than stunt, young minds. "A good game puzzles you, makes you think. And a good game has many solutions," says Young.
Zindagi's own game is still in development, although Young says he hopes to have a prototype of the game ready in the next few months, depending in part on the success of the startup's Kickstarter campaign.