The Creativity Crisis: For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. What went wrong—and how we can fix it.
By Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Have you found yourself bemoaning the paucity of creative outlets in your life? Well, you’re not alone. It probably comes as no surprise that research shows that as a country, our creativity, is declining significantly. In fact, according to a recent Newsweek article, America is going through a creativity crisis. Two culprits seem quite obvious: too much TV, and schools that don’t nurture creativity, but while other countries have become focused on the importance of creativity training, the U.S .lags far behind. Most people equate creativity with artistic ability, but the reality is quite different. Finding answers to our toughest questions requires creative problem solving in order to generate original ideas and effective responses to issues as diverse as the hideous oil spill in the Gulf to the war in Afghanistan.
As moms, if we take the time to re-claim some space for our own creative selves, we will see incredible changes in how we feel and the trickle down impact on our families, friends and colleagues will be palpable. The article below talks about how left and right brains need to be working together to form a cohesive whole. Momasphere is teaming up with creativity guru Whitney Ferre, whose Creatively Fit programs and book address that very challenge, helping you “get your right brain muscle ‘in shape’ so that you can realize your potential and create a fulfilled and inspired life.” Momasphere and Whitney will be offering an exciting 4-week online course that will culminate with a creative group activity led by Whitney here in Brooklyn. We’ll be including details about the course soon, and talking more about creativity and the benefits of tapping into that part of ourselves over the next few weeks, so if you’re not already on the Momasphere list, sign up here to find out all about it. In the meantime, the article below might serve as a wonderful wake-up call to each of us and the larger community.
The potential consequences are sweeping. 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.’ ” Click here to read the whole article.