An article posted by a friend on LinkedIn.com came to the forefront today. The Daily Beast’s “The Creativity Crisis” from authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.
This article was written two years ago. The excerpt announces, “For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.” Needless to say I was shocked but not surprised. My immediate question was, “What have we done to fix the US decline of creative thinking over the last two years?”
My research indicates our society and politics has made very little strides in fixing this problem. Actually, the discourse of our educational system’s performance still lies with a movement towards a more standardized curriculum, continuous rote memorization, and ineffective nationalized testing to measure outcomes. And, do not forget the pressure to use some type measurement as a teacher/school compensation model in our current political rhetoric.
Technology could be partly the blame as Joe Kraus indicates in his article “We’re creating a culture of distraction“. As our society has become more affluent, younger generations have become more susceptible to constant stimulation from technology. Kraus points out, “at the heart of creativity, insight, imagination and humaneness is an ability to pay attention to ANYTHING — our ideas, our line of thinking, each other”. The counter to this argument in the dialog of creative thinking is other cultures are also exposed to the same technology.
Published research by Kyung Hee Kim of the School of Education at The College of William and Mary shows creative thinking in the United States has stabilized or decreased, while intelligence scores continues to improve. Kim’s previously published paper, “Learning About Each Other: Creativity in East Asian and American Education” details how East Asian countries have implemented the American educational model because of its success in creative thinking, yet the US has moved towards standardized testing.
Why is creative thinking and intelligence correlation important to education? The analogy is book smart versus street smart. Street smarts enable problem solving through creative thinking and ideas. Book smart uses intelligence to gather data, facts, and concepts. Innovation only comes when both creative thinking and intelligence function in a cohesive state. A culture void of innovation cannot lead a global community.
This brings us to my original question, “What have we done to fix the US decline of creative thinking over the last two years?”
The academic educational community is clearly concerned and continues its research. What is missing are the conversations to conjoin creative thinking and intelligence as a necessity for learning by educators, parents, and politicians. This is my first exposure to this topic, and I hope not my last.
Let’s return to the old days of problem solving, interactive classes of students and teachers, and support from parents and leadership to foster a new generation of intelligent and creative thinking people. What do you think?