Newsweek: U.S. kids are becoming less creative

<p>"Nobody would argue that Torrance’s tasks, which have become the gold standard in creativity assessment, measure creativity perfectly. What’s shocking is how incredibly well Torrance’s creativity index predicted those kids’ creative accomplishments as adults. Those who came up with more good ideas on Torrance’s tasks grew up to be entrepreneurs, inventors, college presidents, authors, doctors, diplomats, and software developers. Jonathan Plucker of Indiana University recently reanalyzed Torrance’s data. The correlation to lifetime creative accomplishment was more than three times stronger for childhood creativity than childhood IQ.</p>

<p>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.</p>

<p>Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”</p>

<p>The</a> Creativity Crisis - Newsweek</p>

<p>Hmmm isn't that about the time the K-12 system starting pushing math and science. I know that it is a constant battle and balancing act to get the art classes, literature classes,(that they want to take) etc. etc. into my son's high school schedules with all the (state) required math and science. I also think this gen of kids grew up very scheduled into organized activities and with instant entertainment in the form of TV and computers and not as much time just playing and "making" up play games.</p>

<p>And how does this correlate with the advent of No Child Left Behind? I know some educators who would say this was and is a no brainer. </p>

<p>In our local schools, there is far less creativity than when mine were going through the early grades, due to less funding and NCLB. Sad for teachers as well as students. </p>

<p>Great article. I like how they note that China is becoming more creative while we are becoming less, in terms of educational styles.</p>

<p>I totally agree that many kids today are less creative than years past. It's not that they don't have the capacity to be creative. IMO--too many parents push kids into scheduled activities to the point where they don't have much down time to self-explore the world. Any free time the kids do have, they fill up with video games as a means to escape into their own private world.</p>

<p>Remember back to when we were kids. I lived in a small town (still do) and the square block around our home was our own little neighborhood where the kids in that neighborhood could roam free and create adventures. From sun up to 5:00pm (when the Moms would yell or whistle for us to get home for dinner) the world was ours to create. None of us had much money so the kids in the neighborhood would create something out of nothing. We would turn multiple cardboard refridgerator boxes into elaborate castles and houses. We would collect old pieces of wood and build forts and treehouses. When we did this sort of stuff, we didn't have our parents standing there directing us on how to build the projects. We all just sort of figured it out what worked by trial and error/cause and effect. Today, many parents would simply hire someone to build a playhouse or tree fort.</p>

<p>We actually looked forward to a Sunday trip to the dump. The kids would scatter and try to gather up the best "junk" to bring home as material for another project. Wheels and axles were coveted. We would take the junk home and create our own toys. We would turn the junk into go carts (powered by gravity, of course), scooters, and our own version of skateboards. Today, parents would simply buy the skateboard or other wheeled toy.</p>

<p>The neighborhood kids were always trying to make a buck. It wasn't like it is today where kids are given money for nonessential things (candy, toys, etc.). We would create our own businesses. A bunch of us would pool our money together and walk down to the five and dime store. We would buy packages of white tshirts and dye. We would tie dye the t-shirts, string them out on a line in the front yard, and sell them for a profit to the summer tourists. We would also get rides to the Strawberry fields where we would spend hours picking strawberries in the heat. When we got home, we would fill our red wagons with the berries, pull the wagon into town, and try to sell the berries to the local Restaurants. Whatever the restaurants didn't buy, we would sell at a makeshift stand on the sidewalk.</p>

<p>Other times, we would create artwork and have an art sale. We would spend weeks making our masterpieces. Then, the neighborhood kids would get together and have an art sale-----sell our stuff for pennies. At the end of the day, we would all pool our change together and walk down to the corner store. If we were lucky, we would have enough to buy a couple of popsicles (the twin popsicles so 2 kids could share one popsicle) and bubble gum. </p>

<p>We would also spend weeks writing plays, and making sets (out of cardboard, wood, junk from the junkyard, old rags and sheets, whatever leftover paint was in the basements). We would change a quarter for admission and put on the play for the neighborhood. This was all kid driven---no parents whatsoever involved in the process.</p>

<p>Then, there were those really quiet down times where we would lie on the grass and look up a the clouds. We would spend hours making up stories based on the shapes of the clouds--stories of pirate ships, monsters, horses, carnivals, etc. One kid would start the story and another would add onto it. Before we knew it, an hour or so had past.</p>

<p>Instead of video games, we would make up our own games--even create the pieces of the games. </p>

<p>What parents of today may see as poverty and lack of structure, we saw as freedom and exploration. We never knew we were poor. We were too busy engaging in the world--creating our own entertainment, creating our own little businesses, and engaging with people face-to-face (rather than on the internet). We were busy figuring out things on our own--trial and error with the cost of a lot of skinned knees and broken bones. But, we survived and each adventure taught us how to adapt and overcome obstacles in very creative ways.</p>

<p>We created our own fun, adventures, and opportunities. Every self-directed adventure taught us new and creative solutions. Today, parents seem to schedule everything for their kids. Maybe this isn't a bad thing, but it sure is different from years gone by.</p>

<p>IMO--less creativity is not only a by-product of the "teaching to the test" mentality. A large part may be due to the children's lives outside of the school setting.</p>

<p>Alittle bit of a tangent but have you ever noticed how the "dreamers"...the kids who have minds that are constantly drifting or othe kids who see the world differently, that struggle with the regimentation are often called "slackers" or other somewhat derogatory terms. The ones that hole up and read books or are fascinated with something off beat are pigeon-holed because they aren't participating in some formal EC. Worse are the young kids who are dragged to the doctors because "something is wrong." As adults we are in general giving the tacit message that those traits are of little value. Yes, no doubt you can be a creative sole that manifests in a "formal" activity like music or theater but creativity is often just "looking, questioning or playing in the world in a different way." Much creativity is unstructured.</p>

<p>And yes NYsmile I agree with much you said.</p>

<p>nysmile.... Yes, I grew up in the city and can attest to the fact that as city kids we too did many of the same things you have spoken about. My three sons are home this weekend and they all commented about the lack of children playing outside. My kids say that they had the greatest childhood because they did not grow up on video games. They remember their adventures of printing off maps and taking three and four hour bike rides to distances that no other children were permitted to venture off to. Occasionally we would get a phone call that a tire blew out and we would drive an hour away to go get them. Our one hour in the car was three hours away for them. They would pack their bags with drinks and sandwiches and off they would go. They remember feeling very independant and fortunate to have the ability to explore. </p>

<p>At home they were creative and well balanced. They worked hard in school and played equally hard. They gathered wood and made forts in the far end of our yard and often camped out in our backyard on warm summer nights. All of the neighborhood children gravitated to our end of the street and the only cars that came down our way were the homeowners. They played all sorts of games in our circle and seemed to always have more than enough to do. Our sons were looking outside and said that kids today are missing out on what it is to be a kid. They all feel that parents today are just too paranoid to let their kids be. I asked them what they felt about video games, and each of them said that they would not be in their homes when they had children...I laughed, and said that I hoped they all lived close by to each other because their children may not have anyone to play with if all the other neighborhood kids were sitting on their couchs tuned into a screen. </p>

<p>I have seen such a big difference in the way my kids were raised vs how things are in the present. My kids are in their early twenties and yet they had similar experiences to both my husband and I. In fact I think my kids had more freedom because of where we live and having less car congestion. </p>

<p>Our children also had the benefit of growing up with parents that did not like anything that was organized. We were not big joiners and as a result our kids were not tied down to organized sports that they hated but had to do, because parents thought those types of things were important for development. We thought the only thing that was important for their development was to do well academically and spend as much time learning about themselves, nature, and their friends through play. They all became very interested in the community and have all been active in causes. They tend to think out of the box and do things their own way yet they get along with everyone and understand the importance of working together.</p>

<p>I hope our grandchildren will have the childhood that our kids had. I would hate to think that our little ones would be so bored that the only source of entertainment had to come from a video game.</p>

<p>The article is 20 years behind the times. IQ scores have been DROPPING since the late 80s - the Flynn effect in reverse - and accelerated after 2000 (No Child Left Untested). The creativity decline parallels the intelligence decline, and (has also been reported) the empathy decline. All worse since 2000.</p>

<p>Yep. There's pretty much 0 creativity required in schools these days. Even in English. All you had to do for any "creative assignment" was to follow to the carefully laid out rules for whatever piece you were working on. </p>

<p>And it was like that in every class. Kids aren't required to think. They do only what's required of them in school, and then overload themselves with the latest pop culture. </p>

<p>It's no surprise to me that creativity levels are falling. The number of kids my age I can name you that can actually manage to write a poem or a short story without a specific set of guidelines is maybe...1...2...possibly 3? Out of everyone I know.</p>

<p>They lack any desire to be creative. They drudge through school--now structured by NCLB standard tests--and then go home and sit in front of the TV and computer.</p>

<p>There's no room for creativity anymore. </p>

<p>"There's no need for it. Why focus on creativity when you get by in school without it and don't need it any other part of the day?"</p>

<p>That's the mentality I see.</p>

<p>It's sad. Especially to the few kids who do maintain a high level of creativity. They're often the "weird" kids that "normal" kids try to avoid. Or worse, the "troubled" students that teachers talk to parents about.</p>

<p>mini- That's no surprise either. Not a bit. Like I said, kids aren't required to think anymore. So most of them don't.</p>

<p>"We would also spend weeks writing plays, and making sets (out of cardboard, wood, junk from the junkyard, old rags and sheets, whatever leftover paint was in the basements). We would change a quarter for admission and put on the play for the neighborhood. This was all kid driven---no parents whatsoever involved in the process."</p>

<p>When they were kids, my sons (now age 26, 22) used paper, crayons, paperclips and tape to make games and costumes. Both are very creative people.</p>

<p>Most of the time, our TV was off. They didn't have computer games until they were in high school.</p>

<p>I remember that one babysitter thought my kids were weird because they could entertain themselves so well without watching TV.</p>

<p>never thought I'd read something on CC where my kids don't fit the mold....we never organized or restricted what they did; they still visit craft shops over vacations and read like crazy (ages 20 and 17); yes, they also watch TV.....
but both have a strong creative streak in their blood...and, yes, the younger one has been accused of being a "slacker" by her teachers because she does not perform well on the "standard" set by tests that are rote memorization......</p>

<p>I agree with much of what NYsmile wrote. I remember reading a quote in an article about how even toys themselves are directing children what to do instead of letting them choose . . . The dolls that order kids to "hug me, feed me, kiss my booboo" and so on.</p>

<p>It seems like kids have to jump through more hoops these days, and their entertainment is more and more prepackaged (computer games, iPods, etc.)</p>

<p>OK, I give some assignments where my students have to be creative. One of the common demands they make is: "Just tell me what to do!". I don't think their default is creativity (they do generally succeed in completing the assignments, but there is a lot of pulling of teeth!).</p>

<p>Did we do that too? I don't remember.</p>

<p>Well, I remember writing a Halloween story in 1st grade about a vampire terrorizing a couple who were sitting in their car in the woods--necking, I guess? I don't remember. But I was writing with great gusto. </p>

<p>Anyone here familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? It's a fun way to encourage people of all ages to explore their creative side.</p>

<p>"There's pretty much 0 creativity required in schools these days."</p>

<p>IMO--The downward turn on creativity has less to do with the school day and more to do with what goes on out of the school. </p>

<p>I don't remember much creativity within the classrooms when I was in school. We memorized our spelling words. We memorized and recited our multiplication tables. We were constantly writing the same sentences over and over again to practice penmanship.
I can remember sitting at my desk and trying so hard not to scream out of the frustration of constant repetition. My hands would literally cramp up with all of the penmanship exercises (I'm a lefty). There is a lot more creativity within the classrooms today as compared to when I went to school. </p>

<p>I don't put all of the blame on the school system. I really feel that most of the problem lies with the lives of the students outside of school.</p>

<p>^^^^ Yes nysmile...it has everything to do with parents organizing every detail of their kids lives. Kids today are so scheduled that they just don't know what to do with themselves when they have free time.....oh I take that back.... they play video games or sit in front of their computers.</p>

<p>At my high school, we are required to take ONE visual or performing art class for all four years. And I was pressured into taking two sciences next year (my senior year), for it would "look better on college applications". The only "art" class I've ever taken now is Guitar I, and I feel as if I've missed out on a subject that I could have strived in. Four years of science, four years of math, four years of English, four years of a foreign language, two years of PE, and three years of history doesn't leave much room for a creative schedule. Add this to a year of health and a year of computers, and I have had two electives my entire high school career (one being filled by physics...)</p>

<p>What makes all of this even scarier is that as school budgets are being slashed nationally some of the first to be cut are the music and arts teachers and programs. Even though some of the smartest kids are the ones who gravitate to and are enriched by these teachers and programs.</p>

<p>I already said I don't subscribe to what's happening with kids outside the schools, but the schools aren't helping much either.</p>

<p>I don't remember much creativity in high school but I do remember much more "balance" between the arts and the sciences. I graduated at the tippy top of my class and I loved my photography class which I had time to fit into my schedule and a Great Books class and a Medieval History class I took. Even the papers the kids write these days are formulaic (to teach them how to write for the APs and the SATs/ACTs.) Fortunately our high school has some wonderful classes, the problem is for the college bound they are encouraged to fill their schedules with prescribed classes and then and only then can they take Mythology, art classes, creative writing classes, astronomy, poetry. You pretty much have to sign off and give "permission" for your kids to take these classes. Our state is hamstringing the schools more by now requiring 4 years of math for all high school students. For the kids that accelerated in middle school..they are stuck taking upper level math classes that they aren't interested in, may not need for their college major or even college acceptance and this shuts them out of another class they may want to take. Our school is trying to figure out what they can classify as math for those very kids, not the struggling kids, the kids that want out after Trig in 11th grade. The state did not mandate a level of math to attain, the state mandated 4 years. Sad but true. </p>

<p>My oldest son wrote his college essay on this very topic and how much he was looking forward to be able to balance and choose his classes. I'm not saying "math" or science isn't creative for the right kid, but to force feed curriculum to some kids to the exclusion of other classes is pretty sad and in some ways makes the kids all look the same to colleges...they've all marched down the path toward high school graduation taking the classic schedule like Stepford children. </p>

<p>Assuming that all kids are the same, assuming that all kids will score equally on math/science/english ACTs/SATs is so contrary to how humans are wired it is beyond my comphrehension. This phenomenon is called "unbalanced" on these forums - so what! Why is it a negative to have a strength in one area and not in another area. How boring the world will become if that is the pinnacle of achievement...to be balanced.</p>

<p>To JeSuis:</p>

<p>You don't have to miss out on art just because you weren't able to take art classes in high school. Explore art on your own---Draw, paint, mold, photograph, sing, pick up the guitar and experiment with sounds. Self-discovery is a wonderful way to enhance your own knowledge. All learning does not have to come from formal teaching within a classroom.
If you have a passion for something, than self-study and enjoy the subject.</p>

<p>I frequently joke with friends that we live in a 1950's neighborhood -- lots of kids all playing outside going yard to yard, house to house, keeping themselves busy all day long. They also know that even though their own parent may not be within eye or earshot, that someone elses will be and we are fortunate in our 'hood that most of the parents are on the same page re: discipline, respecting others etc. These kids have grown up together and as they are mostly teens now, i can honestly say they are a fantastic group of kids -- not just because of their immediate families, but also the envirionment they have been fortunate enough to grow up in. Even better, they all get it and appreciate it (most of the time:))</p>