Creativity Crisis

Newsweek published a very interesting article about America’s current “creativity crisis”.  The article provides information behind the science of creativity.  Essentially, to be creative requires divergent thinking (creating unique ideas) and then convergent thinking (combining those ideas into the best result).  I won’t go into all the details (I suggest you read the article – it’s worth the time) but the main idea is that America’s creativity scores are declining while other countries’ are rising.  Why are they on the rise in other countries?  Primarily because these countries are making it a top priority and embarking on serious school reform, which involves re-thinking school curricula, educating teachers and administrators on the neuroscience of creativity, and adopting a problem-based learning approach. 

Fostering creativity is all the buzz here in the U.S., too.  However, something is missing in the translation from buzz to practice. 

The good news?

  • Creativity can be cultivated.  “University of New Mexico neuroscientist Rex Jung has concluded that those who diligently practice creative activities learn to recruit their brains’ creative networks quicker and better. A lifetime of consistent habits gradually changes the neurological pattern.”  There’s hope yet.
  • Fostering creativity can be done while also meeting current curriculum standards (my how we love standards here in the U.S.), if taught in a different way.
  • Innovation exists.  Check out my recent post about middle school students figuring out how to take pictures of the Earth’s curvature with under $200.  Or, learn more about Punahou’s new K-1 learning environment which used brain research to inform the design.  These examples of innovation should inspire.  Simply amazing.