The loss of American creativity?

Newsweek recently published an interesting piece about the decline of creativity in America by authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.

In May, a professor at the College of William & Mary, Kyun Hee Kim, analyzed 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Named for the psychologist who created it 50 years ago — E. Paul Torrance — the test is still the gold standard for creativity assessment.

Like intelligence tests, Torrance’s test—a 90-minute series of discrete tasks, administered by a psychologist—has been taken by millions worldwide in 50 languages. Yet there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Professor Kim discovered the decline in creativity is worse among younger children. The reason? Researchers believe a major culprit is the hours children now spend in front of TVs and computers, rather than on creative pursuits. Schooling is also to blame — creativity is no longer nurtured in most U.S. classrooms. Not so in other countries, however:

[Jonathan] Plucker recently toured a number of such schools in Shanghai and Beijing. He was amazed by a boy who, for a class science project, rigged a tracking device for his moped with parts from a cell phone. When faculty of a major Chinese university asked Plucker to identify trends in American education, he described our focus on standardized curriculum, rote memorization, and nationalized testing. “After my answer was translated, they just started laughing out loud,” Plucker says. “They said, ‘You’re racing toward our old model. But we’re racing toward your model, as fast as we can.’ ”

The potential consequences for declining creativity are varied and serious. The article states that a recent IBM poll of 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the No. 1 “leadership competency” of the future:

Yet it’s not just about sustaining our nation’s economic growth. All around us are matters of national and international importance that are crying out for creative solutions, from saving the Gulf of Mexico to bringing peace to Afghanistan to delivering health care. Such solutions emerge from a healthy marketplace of ideas, sustained by a populace constantly contributing original ideas and receptive to the ideas of others.

Read the whole piece here.

 

Zoe Romanowsky

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Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Godspy.com. Zo

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