The Creativity Crisis: American Creativity In Decline

Aug 3, 2010

Newsweek recently ran an article discussing recent research that shows that for the first time, creativity in the United States is in decline.  The research is based upon tests that have been used for many years to assess creative thinking.

Co-author, Po Bronson, writes on his blog about the background of the article:

I have to admit, when I first heard there was a science of creativity, I was intrigued and skeptical simultaneously. I figured whatever scientists might be able to measure, that's not "real" creativity. And by real creativity, I meant creative excellence/genius.

But the more I studied this science, the more I stopped being defensive and accepted the obvious: kids have to start somewhere. Most of the creations of kids are things only a parent could love. But if their homes and schools ask kids to regularly come up with lots of ideas, and follow their curiosity, and then refine their ideas - then eventually, kids get better at it. Their ability to generate ideas and refine ideas improves over time.

Some points of particular interest in the article:

I.Q. Scores always increase. For the first time, C.Q. scores are falling.

Time after time, creativity is cited as a necessary trait for success in all sectors of work, including business and science.

Creativity can be taught.

Countries like China that followed standardized-curricula emphasizing wrote-memorization are adopting problem-based learning approaches, whereas America is doing the reverse.

Neurological studies can identify brain states that enable improvisational thinking in artists.

Creativity is the ability to alternate between divergent and convergent thinking.

Arts isn't the only way to teach creativity.

People who excel in both problem-finding and problem-solving have better relationships, handle stress better, and are more confident.

In addition, they article discussed some interesting alternatives to the traditional "brainstorming" technique for fostering creative thinking, first of which is "Don't tell someone to be creative". 

Check out their website to read the full article, "The Creativity Crisis", written by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman and  published in the July 10, 2010 issue. 

Curious about the creativity tests given to children or want to take it yourself? Check it out here...

Tags: Newsweek, creativity, education, neuroscience, improvisation, problem-solving

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