Is America Experiencing a Creativity Bust?

Conor Friedersdorf

Newsweek reports:

The necessity of human ingenuity is undisputed. 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.

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.

Around the world, though, other countries are making creativity development a national priority. In 2008 British secondary-school curricula--from science to foreign language--was revamped to emphasize idea generation, and pilot programs have begun using Torrance's test to assess their progress. The European Union designated 2009 as the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, holding conferences on the neuroscience of creativity, financing teacher training, and instituting problem-based learning programs--curricula driven by real-world inquiry--for both children and adults. In China there has been widespread education reform to extinguish the drill-and-kill teaching style. Instead, Chinese schools are also adopting a problem-based learning approach.

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.' "
Read the rest here. And see Alan Jacobs too.


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Idea of the Day Show Us What We Spend on Power

Show Us What We Spend on Power

Electricity bills are confusing, and don't arrive until long after the damage is done. The fix to a system that's high in both costs and headaches lies in connecting consumers to their consumption--show people what they're using in real time, and make it easy to compare costs to kilowatts. Geoffrey Gagnon

Features from the Magazine: Stories from our
The End of Men

The End of Men

The sexes: Women are dominating society as never before. By Hanna Rosin Plus: Are Fathers Necessary? By Pamela Paul

Xanadu

Xanadu

Energy: A map of one couple's attempt to build the world's greenest home By Joshua Green

Closing the Digital Frontier

Closing the Digital Frontier

Technology: How media companies are taming the Internet's chaos By Michael Hirschorn

The Littlest Schoolhouse

The Littlest Schoolhouse

Education: Helping wayward students—by personalizing curricula By Ta-Nehisi Coates

No Refills

No Refills

Business: Why are fewer drugs being approved, even as R&D surges? By Megan McArdle

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Ending Poverty

Wealth of nations: An eminent economist discovers the virtues of colonialism. By Sebastian Mallaby

The Case for Calling Them Nitwits

The Case for Calling Them Nitwits

Security: Most terrorists are bungling fools. Spread the word. By Daniel Byman and Christine Fair