On nurturing Gen Z creativity

Jacob Idra

Voices for Choice Fellow, American Federation for Children


MY VIEW ON education is a little different because I was born in South Sudan where there is no public education. Coming here to America was a blessing for our family. My parents quickly realized that you need the best education in order to advance in this country. If you don’t have that, it’s very easy to fall off.

More Voices

We want to learn through our passions and what we believe is our purpose.”

Here in Nebraska, we don’t have any school choice options, but some of us were able to get scholarships through foundations like the Children’s Scholarship Fund. It allowed me to go to a Catholic middle school, and from there I was blessed enough to get a scholarship to a competitive high school. Without that, I would’ve never had the opportunity to show what I could do in the classroom or in athletics.

But going to college shouldn’t only be an opportunity for me and a few of my friends. We shouldn’t be the exception to the rule. What we’re trying to do here in Nebraska is bring a School Choice Program so that more families have that opportunity.


As a kid—I remember this vividly—I was sitting at my desk in eighth grade and someone came in and said, “hey, you can go to college for free, and you can get paid to go to college.” When I heard that, everything just clicked for me. It was like, okay, then that’s what I’m going to do. But kids need to know that at a very early age. Those expectations need to be set early, so that they believe it’s attainable.

If I were to start a school, it would be all about being transparent with our students. Kids are always asking, “why do I need to learn this?” We should say, “you need to learn this because you will be using this here.” A lot of times—and I don’t think it’s intentional—but teachers and the system underestimate children’s intelligence and what they can accomplish.

As far as education goes, Gen Z is very much into being a part of our own creative process and less about more traditional learning styles. We’re accustomed to instant communication. For someone in Gen Z, a simple text can say as much as a paragraph. In a word, we’re creators.

Schools need to nurture that creativity. Kids need to learn how to create, because the entrepreneurial surge is going to blossom. We want to learn through our passions and what we believe is our purpose.