Newsweek Magazine had an article recently (http://www.newsweek.com/2010/07/10/the-creativity-crisis.html ) that stated students in the USA creativity scores are falling. However, last week I read an article in the Detroit Free Press stating some state scores are on the rise? In the Newsweek article it states that every generation the IQ of our students rises about 10 points but creativity testing now shows a decrease.
Newsweek defines creativity as the production of something original and useful, and says it requires divergent thinking (generating many unique ideas) followed by convergent thinking, in which those ideas are combined into the best result.
Well qualityg needs no scientific testing I just watched the children around me and for a long time I have seen the decline in creativity among our children.
Last month while I was working on my mother in law’s computer I had a chance to see and hear my young nieces and nephew (ages 5- 11) playing in the backyard. As I listened and watched them play I had forgotten how much fun kids have when they are left alone to play, explore and make up games as they go. No adults standing over them to make sure they throw the ball correctly or play the game according to the rules.
When I think of the well-known inventors, artists, authors, etc… most of them were different, they had a passion for what they were doing and I bet they also had fun! They were not part of the status quo based on “Standards” that are supposedly good for all of us. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not for throwing away the standard testing completely, I’m just not willing to do it at the expense of sub-optimizing the creative talents of the children. There needs to be a balance between creativity and intelligence and there is none in our educational systems today.
Just before the get together was ending my sister-in-law came in and showed a web-site that displayed the artwork of my niece had done at school, being in fourth grade (age 9) I was amazed at her talent (I was discouraged from being an artist in the first grade, the Nun did not like my coloring and stuck me under her desk and kicked me periodically during the day, it was the end of my art career, but I did do well blocking kicks on the football team).
I believe a big part of the problem is the over scheduling of children's free time (Guilty as Charged). Kids are run from one lesson to another, from adult organized sports to child care programs that structure the whole day. They don't have time to think, to dream, to create their own games and act out their own stories, or to make things out of nothing. Look at out sport systems today. When summer starts many parents already have the camp dates for basketball, volleyball and football. This does not include the travel teams that kids play on during the week and the tournaments on weekends. Some try to fit in a vacation but that is usually planned out by the hour or day because someone decided we had to do this or go see that in order to have fun and be creative.
Now let’s add to that the planned mess when school starts and the focus and concentration on standardized test scores.
I can remember getting up in the morning during the summer or on Saturdays during school and going out after breakfast and not returning until dinner or the street lights came on. We played baseball and many other games with a variety of balls (football, basketball, dodge ball, kick ball, etc.). We made up games on our bikes and invented new ways of getting neighbors mad as we played Man from Uncle as we ran through yards and jumped fences in order not to get caught (tackled).
Yeah, my kids are smarter than I was when it comes to standardized testing but they never went on a bike hike that lasted all day or went down by the river and rode on ice breaking in the spring or hopping trains to Ohio. There was some Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer in all of us when we got creative.