The end of creativity?
I usually don’t pay too much attention to articles and books that deal with creativity. Most of them are just shallow and irrelevant. I usually prefer to look at the manifestations of creativity, the innovative ideas that we come up with. But I ran across this Newsweek article, published in July. (Oh, I’m so late on this.)
Creativity in the U.S. is declining. It’s a fact. The causes for this are unclear, so are its consequences.
Just as personality, creativity is difficult to assess. Torrance’s test, a 90-minute series of tasks, is widely considered to be the best measurement of creativity. We’re not talking about creating art here, but rather of being capable of coming up with original answers, solve problems, innovate, synthesize ideas into positive outcomes, etc.
Whereas IQ test results steadily increase over the years – by 10 points for each generation – the creativity quotient, or CQ, has been falling for the first time.
You might already see where this is going. Individuals who obtain high scores on the Torrance test grow up to become entrepreneurs, engineers, professors… In other words, some of the most influential people out there. And with a bunch of major issues to solve – health care, transportation, war, our water system to mention a few, the qualities of creative people are in high demand. In fact, there’s a whole new professional field that seeks to explore these qualities, that’s design thinking.
The Newsweek article cites two possible causes to the decline of creativity: the time spent by kids in front of the television or playing video games, and our education system. It’s only analyzing the U.S. system, but I feel this could be useful for a bunch of countries. The question is: what skills do we want to teach children? And what are the skills they will need most in the future? We don’t need to radically change curricula in order to have kids develop their creativity. Again, this is not about having more art classes. For instance, problem-solving can be reinforced as part of regular Mathematics or History classes. Encouraging creativity is encouraging kids to ask questions, see issues from different angles, think “outside the box” (no matter how much I hate this expression.)
“Creativity has always been prized in American society, but it’s never really been understood,” concludes the author. America has always thrived on being populated with creative, entrepreneurial, adventurous people. What if it loses that part of itself?