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Education United States Science News

The Creativity Crisis 571

An anonymous reader writes with this quote from an article at Newsweek: "For the first time, research shows that American creativity is declining. ... 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. 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.'"
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The Creativity Crisis

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  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:29AM (#32865982) Journal

    I have a rising third grader. I've been informed that the next year will be all about memorization of the necessary facts which will get her to pass the Virginia "Standards Of Learning" (yes, they really call them the SOLs) exam at year end. Everything in the school system, from her promotion to the evaluations of the teachers, administrators, and facility are tied to these scores. There is no creativity required or recommended on these exams.

  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:11AM (#32866260) Homepage Journal
    Ken Robinson spoke of this at TED years ago: []

    highly recommended talks...and funny too.


  • by Moryath ( 553296 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:24AM (#32866364)

    "6 hours"? You're joking, right?

    The school day (average kid) where I grew up was as follows:
    6 AM: Get out of bed.
    6:30 AM: Be on bus to school. Be Fucking Quiet for an hour, the bus driver didn't want to have to deal with kids.
    7:30 AM: Unload from buses in "orderly fashion."
    7:45 AM: first class begins.
    11:30 AM: Lunch period begins. Orderly file through line, either eat bag lunch or "hot lunch" option. "Be Quiet" as teachers monitor you.
    12:15 PM: here begins "15 minute recess", consisting of 5 minutes of lining up to go outside, 5 minutes of play, 5 minutes of lining up to go back inside.
    12:30 PM: Classes resume.
    4 PM: Reload on buses. Once again, Be Fucking Quiet.
    5-5:30 PM: Get back home, depending on traffic.
    5:30 PM-6:30PM: Dinner.
    6:30PM-8PM: "Homework", consisting of the boring fucking busy-work that nevertheless will fuck your grades over if you don't do it.
    8pm-9PM: optional (PARENT option, not kid option) practicing of musical instrument or singing if you were enrolled in Music Concentration Camp... er "Music Class" of some sort where we never got to perform anything truly interesting.

    Small wonder the kids have no creativity. The fact that I have mine still is only a function of the fact that I convinced most of my teachers to just give me the homework listings ahead of time and let me do it during school time sitting in the back of class, rather than wasting my evenings on the fucking busy work.

  • by taskiss ( 94652 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:53AM (#32866544)

    The Interpretation of Torrance Creativity Scores.

    This study tests the appropriateness of Torrance's assumptions of trait independence and the combinability of measures (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking) with respect to the scoring of the tests for a younger population and estimates the homogeneity of the scores. The sample consisted of 128 elementary school children. Results indicate that separate scoring for fluency, flexibility, and originality traits is not warranted, because any special dispositions for these traits that may exist are overwhelmed by the task specificity of the scores. It is suggested that the Torrance scores reveal nothing interesting about the individual, and the report contends that use of more than a single score from the Torrance battery makes little sense. The major question still unanswered is when, if ever, it makes sense to use a score from the Torrance battery.

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:05AM (#32866630) Homepage

    Small wonder the kids have no creativity.

    I had the same schedule, as did millions of other kids of my generation - and we're in the demographic where creativity was rising, and continued to rise for a decade after we graduate high school.

  • Re:Expected (Score:3, Informative)

    by bmajik ( 96670 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:06AM (#32866632) Homepage Journal

    You could read "Education: Free and Compulsory", by Murray Rothbard. It's available as an online PDF from, iirc.

    Of course, you will probably decide he is also a "crackpot".

    The US has a relatively unique set of problems that many other places do not suffer from. I frankly do not care how things work in other places - I am concerned with how they can be made to work here, especially for my children.

  • Re:troublesome tests (Score:3, Informative)

    by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:29AM (#32866792)
    Having an environmental element doesn't mean there isn't a genetic element. Nature and nurture are basically coefficients in many things, intelligence included. Height has well known genetic components, but malnutrition can cause someone with genes for being tall to be significantly shorter.
  • Idiocracy (Score:3, Informative)

    by littlewink ( 996298 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:30AM (#32866802)

    I watched the movie Idiocracy [] last night and got a sense of our culture's non-creative future, 500-some odd years removed.

    In one scene the time clock spins forward over centuries, pausing intermittently only to capture a single image of a restaurant storefront in evolution: "FuddRuckers" devolves to "RuddPuckers", "PudSuckers", etc. (or some such). When the clock stops the culture has christened the restaurant "ButtFuckers".

    Apparently the references to FuddRuckers, Costco, Starbucks et al caused Fox to bury the film, which portrays a future where creativity and intelligence have largely disappeared.

  • Re:Validity (Score:3, Informative)

    by RJFerret ( 1279530 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @03:10PM (#32868280) Homepage

    It seems those who modded this insightful didn't read the article?

    I don't see anyone asking if the "creativity test" is even valid.

    How's the test structured? What's the researcher's definition of creativity? What are they measuring?

    All those things were clearly explained in the article, actually to a wonderful level of depth.

    Creativity is a very subjective concept as it is.

    Au contraire, the results of creativity is subjective, but the objective process is defined in the article, right down to the parts of the brain involved (as seen in an fMRI).

    The article also clearly shows how unlike other standardized tests, the creativity test had an incredible predictive ability. To quote, "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."

  • Re:Ritalin use (Score:3, Informative)

    by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:12PM (#32868730) Journal
    As an adult with ADD, my experience is the direct opposite: when off the meds, my head is full of random, repetitive thoughts (niggercod, niggercod, niggercod, niggercod, GAAAAAH! o_O). When on the meds, I can actually *think clearly*, and it's much easier to take in information. Being the mental equivalent of a blithering, tentacled chaos-spawn isn't really conductive to actually doing or really thinking anything at all.
  • Re:Expected (Score:3, Informative)

    by Savantissimo ( 893682 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @07:23PM (#32870036) Journal

    Your assertions are unsupported, and at odds with Mr. Gatto who has supported his views at length in his book: "The Underground History of American Education" [] (full text, site may be down). Your points also do not address his points in his essay "Nine Assumptions of Schooling (and Twenty-one Facts the Institution Would Rather Not Discuss)" []

    When you have spent decades teaching in a public school, won a statewide "best teacher of the year" award, and written a book on the history of education which required years of research, (or just support your points with better evidence) then perhaps your opinions might be given equal weight to those of Mr. Gatto on this subject. As it is, you are just some guy on the internet flinging accusations of crackpottery at a better man with a better argument and better evidence.

    To get back to the topic at hand, here is a section from Gatto's article: "Confederacy of Dunces the Tyranny of Compulsory Schooling" []

    Mass dumbness is vital to modem society. The dumb person is wonderfully flexible clay for psychological shaping by market research, government policymakers; public-opinion leaders, and any other interest group. The more pre-thought thoughts a person has memorized, the easier it is to predict what choices he or she will make. What dumb people cannot do is think for themselves or ever be alone for very long without feeling crazy. That is the whole point of national forced schooling; we aren't supposed to be able to think for ourselves because independent thinking gets in the way of "professional" think-ing, which is believed to follow rules of scientific precision.

    Modern scientific stupidity masquerades as intellectual knowledge - which it is not. Real knowledge has to be earned by hard and painful thinking; it can't be generated in group discussions or group therapies but only in lonely sessions with yourself. Real knowledge is earned only by ceaseless questioning of yourself and others, and by the labor of independent verification; you can't buy it from a government agent, a social worker, a psychologist, a licensed specialist, or a schoolteacher. There isn't a public school in this country set up to allow the discovery of real knowledge - not even the best ones - although here and there individual teachers, like guerrilla fighters, sabotage the system and work toward this ideal. But since schools are set up to classify people rather than to see them as unique, even the best schoolteachers are strictly limited in the amount of questioning they can tolerate.

    The new dumbness - the non thought of received ideas - is much more dangerous than simple ignorance, because it's really about thought control. In school, a washing away of the innate power of individual mind takes place, a "cleansing" so comprehensive that original thinking becomes difficult. If you don't believe this development was part of the intentional design of schooling, you should read William Torrey Harris's The Philosophy of Education. Harris was the U.S. Commissioner of Education at the turn of the century and the man most influential in standardizing our schools. Listen to the man.

    "Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred," writes Harris, "are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom." This is not all accident, Harris explains, but the "result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual." Scientific education subsumes the individual until his or her behavior becomes robotic. Those are the thoughts of the most influential U.S. Commissioner of Education we've had so far.

    The great theological scholar Dietrich Bonhoeffer raised this issue of the new dumbness in his brilliant analysis of Nazism, in which he sought to comprehend how the best-schooled nation in the world, Germany, could fall unde

  • by sean.peters ( 568334 ) on Monday July 12, 2010 @02:17PM (#32876854) Homepage

    Look, I agree that we've kind of gone overboard with kid's safety. Kids should be able to just run around outside without parents freaking out about it. But geez, complaining about wearing helmets on bikes? Sure, lots of kids survived childhood just fine without them. But some didn't.

    Come on, people. Making kids wear appropriate protective gear is not exactly child abuse. It's not that expensive, pretty comfortable, and it saves lives. Spare me the tales of woe that you're not able to let your kids jump their bikes, helmetless, off 15 foot high ramps without cries of child endangerment. Because that's what it is.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger