A Phillie Teacher

I was a starry-eyed teacher from New Jersey. Now I work for Philadelphia Public Schools.

Creativity Sinkhole in the US

Posted by aphillieteacher on July 19, 2010

Newsweek published an article describing a researcher’s study which pointed to creativity as an indicator of future success. According to researcher E. Paul Torrance,

The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.

He listed entrepreneurs, university presidents, inventors, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers as those who scored highly in early creativity testing.

Yet he notes with alarm that the United States is suddenly lacking creativity in its children. This could be a real problem for our country in terms of future economy and leadership. What’s the problem?

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

(my emphasis on the last part)

A few questions:

  • How can educators nurture creativity if we’re told to focus on “test taking skills?”
  • What creativity is encouraged on one-size-fits-all state-designed, multiple choice tests?
  • How can parents pay for enrichment classes that 1. may or may not exist in their community  2. may be too expensive to afford?

I think the answer is obvious. By directing so much attention an resources on testing and scores, the United States is actually hurting our children and our country by omitting the important element of creativity and higher order thinking. we need to do more to encourage the creativity present in all children.

Nevertheless, districts are cutting art and music programs. Classroom instruction is reduced to the lowest common denominator so that everyone “gets it.”  That’s fine, but what happens to the bright and/or creative kids who already “got it”? I don’t know about your school, but in New Jersey and Pennsylvania public schools the Gifted and Talented Programs are a thing of the past.

It’s a fascinating article. The authors cite creativity movements in other countries and the abysmal showing of US children. It also offers a solution: project-based learning that encourages creativity while helping students master information.

Unless our administrators and policy makers pay attention to warnings such as these, they will have only themselves to blame.

Read the whole article here:The Creativity Crises

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4 Responses to “Creativity Sinkhole in the US”

  1. Artist said

    Creativity is something deeply human. It is important to not destroy it through comparisons. I am painting through synesthesia which makes me see colors when I hear a name or a number. Colors are my life.

  2. Creativity may be deeply human but it is being ignored in the public school. In some places it’s even discouraged because it takes “time off task” and might be proof that the child isn’t learning what he/she needs for the test.

    This is why I love teaching English. There is plenty of room for creativity in spite of mandated curriculum.

  3. I agree — I remember lots of projects and coloring and whatnot during my elementary years. The amount diminished gradually as I got older, but…I also took harder classes and also took band and choir in school. Taking band & choir kind of hurt my GPA — they weren’t graded, and I had 2 study halls senior year, so that meant I had only 4 classes to figure into my GPA, compared to some of my peers with 6 to 8 classes. I just barely squeaked into my top 10% and was going to fight it if I hadn’t been included. However, all this testing didn’t exist back then either. I like the idea of testing, in theory, but in practical application it’s crap.

  4. Jen said

    Yup on the testing. Even when the testing tries to include evidence of “higher order” thinking skills, the preparation for it…doesn’t. It includes drilling on how to identify and slog through the types of problems most likely to be on the higher order thinking section of the test.

    Scripted curricula take any creativity development that was left in the hands of the teachers/schools right out of the equation.

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