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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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  • Expected (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:37AM (#32866028) Journal

    If you're familiar with the founding principals [] of the public education system this isn't a surprise. Schools were intentionally designed by early 20th century psychologists to reduce creativity and increase conformity.

    If anything, it's surprising that it took this long before this effect started to manifest.

  • Cable TV? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ciggieposeur ( 715798 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:38AM (#32866036)

    1980-1990 seems about the time cable television became more common than OTA TV. OTA TV used to be very boring for children, but cable brought Nickelodeon and the Disney channel in homes to become defacto babysitters for millions of kids.

  • by v(*_*)vvvv ( 233078 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:40AM (#32866052)

    Music teaches focus. Art cannot be done without fully applying yourself. Sports teaches teamwork and pragmatic execution. Yet we cut all that and emphasize stuff in text books, as if they were bibles. No wonder creativity is stuck in a pot hole.

    Anyone with any slight interest in the topic must see:
    Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @09:43AM (#32866070)

    I wonder how much contribution the ease of information access and advanced tools have to this. A few generations ago, if you didn't know something, you had to figure it out yourself or go to the library and spend hours trying to see if someone else solved it (with much less chance of getting the answer than today).

    However, with improvement in technology, it is much easier to find someone else's solution to the problem - odds are you aren't alone in your problem and someone has figured in out and disseminated their solution. If your typical problem solving techniques consists primarily of Google, how likely is it that you are prepared to use your own head when you need it?

    Not saying that technology is bad, but maybe they should have given the kids access to whatever tech they wanted to solve their problem and then see how many kids run to the computer and are then able to solve these tasks.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#32866178)

    Creativity is declining because parents are washing their hands of the responsibility to shape the minds of their own kids. You don't get an inquisitive, creative mind at school - you arrive at school with one.

    Where it is promptly beaten out of you.

    The article didn't say creativity has disappeared. It said it's declining. It doesn't take disinterested parents to do that, all it takes is the removal of one previously encouraging environment to tip the balance in the other direction.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:00AM (#32866180) Journal

    More importantly, I suspect, stuff Just Works now. In the '80s, a typical home computer booted into a programming language. You needed a basic understanding of how it worked to be able to start a game, and a lot of children at least tried playing with the programming environment, because it was there and loading a game took 10 minutes. There was some TV to watch, but not a huge amount. Prefabricated plastic toys were common enough that parents complained that the toys they had as a child were better, but they were simple - you needed to use your imagination to have fun with them.

    Around 1990, home computers started to become good enough that you could use them without any understanding, just pointing and clicking. In fact, the home computer as a market segment died around then - you had consoles (with no ability to run user-modified code) and you had computers aimed at businesses that were also sold to home users. You started getting a lot more TV aimed at children, and toys started coming with microcontrollers and 'interactive' functionality that let you borrow someone else's imagination.

    For a business computer, working without user effort is a good thing. A business computer exists to make some other task easier - you don't want to be thinking about the computer, you want to be thinking about the task. For an educational computer, this is not such an advantage. If stuff doesn't work correctly, you need to use some creativity to fix it. How many people here remember the 'fun' of editing autoexec.bat and config.sys to make a game work? How many children born in the '90s did something similar? Of the two, who do you think has more of an understanding of the purpose of device drivers or of computer memory models?

  • by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:04AM (#32866194) Homepage Journal

    I have noticed a distinct trend towards authoritarianism in American culture in the past 20 years. And this has been most especially pronounced in schools. Authoritarianism and creativity are at direct odds with each other.

    My own HS started making changes shortly after I graduated in 1989. They started restricting student's ability to go off campus during the day. And I haven't really gone back to find out what else has changed, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot more locked down than when I went.

    I think America became afraid of its young people. There was this idea that young people were becoming increasingly violent and uncontrollable. For example, stories of cold-blooded killings and gang membership became the impetus for changing the laws so it was much more likely juveniles would be prosecuted as adults.

    But I think there was more to it than that, and I'm not completely sure where the wrong turn was taken or what it was.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:05AM (#32866208) Journal

    Let me clarify: in my house, creativity is highly encouraged. We work with my daughter every night (though not in a "structured" way that feels like work). She's a wonderful child who loves music and theater, is reading about 4 grades above her "level", and is on par in math.

    The problem is that the regimented way in which some things are taught can lead to problems in learning. After a very poorly presented math year in first grade, we spent most of last year trying to "undo" the damage. She's terrified of subtraction (first grade), and yet multiplication and fractions (second grade) are "fun." It took us most of first grade to figure out that the teacher didn't like math, so she tried not to teach it - just timed workbooks and tests.

    I do think that more than half of the problems in school stem from problems at home. It seems that very few (one in ten, one in eight?) families actually work with their children in a meaningful way. The rest are left to drift, or are actively discouraged from academic pursuits. After long days at work, the parents are tired and don't really want the burden of teaching anything. Sad, really.

  • by supercrisp ( 936036 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:13AM (#32866270)
    Well, OK. But keep in mind your bias. Very few homes nation-wide had or could afford personal computers in the 80s. Since then, a number of technologies have proliferated (and become more affordable, to a degree) that encourage interacting with the device/medium in scripted ways: cable television, the internet, computers, computer and console games, cell phones. All these things happened at the same time that obesity began to skyrocket and (according to this article) creativity began to decline. This is also the same time when our schools began to get "back to basics" and cut programs like art, photography, and even recess. Variety is important, and moving from one screen to another doesn't cut it. Still, I'm uncertain about my own claim here, as a great deal of creativity begins at a very young age. I'm also not taking into account that the 80s marked the beginning of greatly increasing hours at work for most adults, and greater competition for jobs, as well as a tendency to spend more and more on consumer goods and service, an increase influenced by more readily available consumer credit. So much less parental involvement is possible. I say that as an often-exhausted parent. I guess, for me, it boils down to a perfect storm of impending idiocracy. I say this as an English teacher. I can see the change in the papers I've collected in the last five and ten years.
  • Re:Expected (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:21AM (#32866338) Journal

    The culprit isn't necessary public education - it's the implementation of it that is practiced in the US today. Gatto has plenty of good things to say about public education as it was implemented throughout most of the 19th century and before.

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:32AM (#32866410)
    Memorization can be a good thing. I think the problem is in the way memorization is taught.

    Knowing - and probably more importantly learning - details is still quite valuable. Just a matter of how it's actually done.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:37AM (#32866438)

    When I was kid, I remember playing with a stick and imagined it was a sword and a gun and a spear and a lightsabre and a shovel and ...
    Now parents will buy the kid a play-lightsabre. You can not imagine that to be a shovel or a gun. You could use it as such, but it isn't one in your mind. The stick WAS everything I wanted it to be.

    When I was young, I read books and imagined how each person looked like. That part is gone. Many kids now have a fixed image of characters and how they must look like. Getting an image imprinted in your memory is the opposite of imagination.

  • by krou ( 1027572 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:41AM (#32866454)

    In the words of Woodrow Wilson, "We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forego the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."

    Creativity is not conducive to performing difficult manual tasks.

  • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:46AM (#32866486) Homepage

    There's slightly more to it than that I fear.

    One of the most important things I learned in art classes were in how to visualize things to produce better realism. This was important so that things that I would later imagine became more realistic and better developed. This all developed a more structured imagination which enabled more complexity of imagination and creativity.

    The problem with today's young minds as I see it is a decrease in ability to concentrate and build complex things from more simple things. The famed "short attention span" often called "AD/HD" or the like are, in my view, the simple lack of a practiced mind. Kids don't play with building toys as much as they once did -- they play with action figures re-enacting scenes from their favorite movies. More, there is a decrease in the actual participation of adults in play! That is a HUGE factor.

    When my older boys were between 7 and 10, they told me "we like you because you are always tricking us." And I was. I was testing their minds and perception with tricks and jokes of various sorts. Some times they would figure it out on their own, other times I had to provide clues and hints. Whatever the case, their minds were challenged and they enjoyed it. Fast forward to present day, I have a 19 year old entering the nuclear sciences field and a 17 year old in advanced college courses while in high school. They are both extremely fun and creative individuals with strong logic, reasoning and math skills along with interests in music and graphic arts. These boys can literally do anything they want in life as their skill set is adaptable and versatile. This was no accident... and strangely, they are also quite happy when compared to the common "achiever" who is pressured by parents for excellent grades and the like.

    My boys targeted mastery and personal fulfilment as their paths. The common "achiever" tends to "study for the test" and fills in the blocks for achievement set before them by curricular academics. My boys aren't #1 in their peer groups though... they aren't any of those latin titles/ranks. Those are most often for the achievers to struggle and fight for. Instead, they are simply the best they can be while being happy and satisfied with themselves which is all I ever wanted for them.

    What is lacking as much as things no longer available in school, is parental participation. And what is more unfortunate is that this has been a problem in my own generation and now two generations of parents lack the experience of good parent teaching themselves and have no clue nor inclination to provide that experience for their children. Our society of instant gratification and bubblegum pop culture has dug a hole that it won't easily climb out of until the next renaissance which isn't likely to happen again any time soon.

    What gets me is that I didn't actually have the ideal family experience growing up. I had divorced parents. I had split custody juggling me around. I had a mother who more or less personified the parent who didn't care to teach her son anything (I once humiliated myself by assuming than an "address" was something girls wore and told my teacher that I didn't have one because I was a boy!) and a father who only had every-other-weekend to teach me the things he thought I should know and frankly, I wasn't all that interested in learning from him. He managed to teach me things anyway when I wasn't noticing and he taught me the nature of numbers... negative and positive, wholes and decimals/fractions... all in a matter of about 30 minutes in front of an oscilloscope. No exaggeration and no joke. That was when the lights came on in my head and frankly, I believe that's all a kid needs -- something to turn the lights on.

    We do have a problem in our schools, but the biggest problem is with our parents. Many people reading me here today are parents. Are you challenging your kids? Are you "tricking" them with riddles and jokes? Are you showing them why wheels are amazing inventions? Do t

  • not confused, amused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mevets ( 322601 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:47AM (#32866492)

    Testing is the snake oil of our times; but a fool and his money...

  • Re:Play time? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:52AM (#32866536)

    When you look back in time, the only pattern I've ever seen is access to implements and free time. Admittedly, that's highly unscientific, but having free time in which to do nothing and where one doesn't have to produce as a portion of the day is really important if one wishes to create anything.

    Google's 20%, for example?

  • The War on Drugs? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:54AM (#32866552) Homepage

    Pot smoking among school kids went down by the early '80s. I'd cite statistics, but those are all suspect, being produced to support claims for the effectiveness of government programs (in a word, "creative"). Still, there can be no doubt by any serious cultural critic that creativity in Western Civilization peaked in the '60s, along with peak use of creativity-enhancing drugs. Because that creativity was perceived as - and may have been - politically dangerous, it and the drug use which enhances it have been discouraged since.

  • Re:Validity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mevets ( 322601 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:57AM (#32866574)

    Your right, there are, and they do. Unfortunately, there is no money in saying "you can't reliably measure that"; so to pay the bills, a little tour in fishnet stockings is required. Take a look at the money behind the "personality test industry" and the papers published about the effectiveness of these tests.

    An anecdote from the straightdope: .......
    The test was developed starting in the 1940s by the mother-daughter team of Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers with the goal of sorting people based on Carl Jung's theory of psychological types. The best that can be said about the Swiss psychiatrist's ideas is that they were ingenious -- he made no attempt to validate them via experiment. Briggs and Myers, for their part, had no expertise in psychology other than what they picked up from Jung and consultation with people in the testing business. Nonetheless, the MBTI began attracting professional attention in the 1960s, and Consulting Psychologists Press (now CPP) began publishing it in the 1970s. After that the thing took off. .......

  • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:03AM (#32866608) Homepage


    Any time you begin to enter a culture of control and conservatism (not just a machinery of, but a culture of, in which agency, originality, and deviation are considered morally/ethically wrong), you'll find that people begin to frown on creativity. Innovation is nothing more than deviance with a positive outcome. In an value system that places a premium on nondeviance and sees it as a primary measure of status on the one hand, and that normalizes or obscures awareness of the importance of others' deviance/innovation on the other (read: political and market-oriented historical revisionism the change in our understand of knowledge to that of a commodity to be manufactured), there will be no innovation.

    Basically, intellectual property is killing innovation. 9/11 and the war on terror are killing innovation. Big capital is killing innovation.

    Where you have a field of perfectly efficient and predictable consumers, you have zero innovation and creativity quotient. By definition.

  • by Monsieur Canard ( 766354 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:08AM (#32866654)

    I like my iPod Touch (as close as I'll ever get to an iPhone).

    To give you an example of what I'm talking about here, I read Oliver Sachs excellent memoir "Uncle Tungsten" where he recounts his childhood discovery and fascination with chemistry and science in general. He talk about going down to a local store in London around the WWII era and buying sodium, phosphorus, and I think even uranium ore. Then he goes home and experiments and mixes and burns and almost blows his house up in the process - yet he learns a lot and does it mostly on his own using his own creativity.

    Nowadays if you build a little rocket in your backyard and set it off, you're liable to get a visit from Homeland Security and be branded a potential terrorist.

    I'm not against security, but at what cost?

  • Re:Play time? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:14AM (#32866690)

    A lot of the comments here suggest that decreasing creativity is part of a grand scheme for mind control. Perhaps, but Hanlon's razor comes to mind. There remains plenty of space for creativity outside of school. Lawsuits have become a real nuisance, and standardization of everything is just an efficient way to minimize damage.

    It's worthwhile to compare these findings to those of other countries. I don't have answers, but in many Asian schools, it's all about rote memorization, and has been for a very long time. In many Asian cultures, conformity is encouraged, so whether creativity is valued at all depends on the society. As someone else hinted, America might value creativity a little too much, often giving praise to irrelevant and bizarre ideas.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:28AM (#32866782)

    My daughter had a wonderful math teacher that finally got permission to give
    an AP Economics class. We live in Washington DC, and this was at the beginning
    of the financial meltdown, a wonderful opportunity to bring some real-world
    situations into the class. What did they study? The AP curriculum, lockstep
    week by week to cover it all. What a loss.

  • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jurily ( 900488 ) <jurily@g m a i l . com> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:28AM (#32866784)

    I don't have answers, but in many Asian schools, it's all about rote memorization, and has been for a very long time. In many Asian cultures, conformity is encouraged, so whether creativity is valued at all depends on the society.

    I've worked with South Koreans once, and over three months, I couldn't find any correlation between their actions and common sense. For example, when a brand new $100 million piece of equipment malfunctions, my first thought would be to get the on-site American engineer they flew in to assemble it, and not a hammer and some duct tape.

    Also, they almost fired me on my first day because I didn't wear the uniform they didn't give me yet.

  • by Fnord666 ( 889225 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:29AM (#32866800) Journal

    You may be partially on to something. Many items are "too cheap to fix" now. If your TV breaks, you don't see which tube blew. If the lawnmower stops running, there's not much that's replaceable (save the entire engine). If your car or washing machine stops running, there's a good chance that fixing it would require diagnostic equipment exceeding the value of the item - you take it to get repaired or you replace it.

    While I agree with your premise, I disagree with your conclusion. While a greater number of components were accessible and could be theoretically fixed by the end user, I suspect that in reality it didn't happen. Your average person didn't open their TV to see what tube burned out. If the washing machine quit working, they didn't go at it with a schematic and a multimeter. They called someone to come fix it. The same thing happens today except that in many cases it's easier/cheaper to replace something rather than fix it.

  • by cshbell ( 931989 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:38AM (#32866838)

    I'm speaking purely for the United States here. The first thing that came to mind was this great scene [] from the movie Apollo 13 where engineers are told they have to fit a square filter in a round hole using only the elements on the table. First reaction? They dive right in.

    So to use this as an example, it sometimes feels like we've lost the raw brilliance and creativity that allowed us to put human beings on the moon. And we did it years before the development of advanced composites, sophisticated integrated circuits, and computer modeling. The moon missions were calculated with slide rules; even the astronauts had to be skilled mathematicians.

    In that sense, it feels like our creativity is on the wane. On the other hand, perhaps it's just changing form.

    True, we haven't put anybody on the moon in a while, but we've instead built a giant worldwide interconnected computer network. We've built a search engine that aggregates and indexes it all. We've built touchscreen devices that can make phone calls, access websites, pinpoint your location to within 30 feet using satellites hundreds of miles in the sky, and put it all into a tiny package that slips into your pocket and runs all day on a battery charge.

    That's pretty creative, and it's showing no signs of slowing down. So I don't necessarily know that we're less creative today; I see the emotional and anecdotal evidence for it, but the contrary evidence suggests that we're still exceptionally creative and eclectic with our skills.

  • Necessity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @11:43AM (#32866878)
    Necessity is the mother of invention, sufficiency is her lazy childless brother, and opulance is the serial killer who lives next door.
  • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sharkman67 ( 548107 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:00PM (#32867012)
    Your right on the mark. I live in a affluent New England town with one of the highest rated school systems. I was disgusted with the school system this past year. This year in first grade we got a young (mid 20 yr old) teacher who did nothing but stifle creativity. When I asked about art and music she said that that's what the 'specials' are for. The specials are art, gym, library, music. They only do each one once a week. It was a really struggle to get through the year. I saw the spark in these kids eyes extinguished. Talking to the principal and superintendent of schools yielded no results.

    Last year my daughter had an amazing Kindergarten teacher. One that has been around for 40 years. She constantly bucked the system by really focusing on creativity for the kids. And when they worked hard they were taken outside for extra recess or other activities. She ignored the principal and directives from the school and I tell you the kids that came out of her class are amazing. It's a shame that she is a rare breed these days and I fear the future generations will have no teachers like her....
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:10PM (#32867062)

    1.Kids arent being allowed to be kids anymore. When I was a kid in primary school, I used to take my 2 bucks pocket money on a Saturday morning and go tearing out of the house, down the street and across the local oval to the local shop to spend the 2 bucks on assorted lollies, most likely shouting who knows what at the top of my lungs at the same time.

    Kids need to be kids, they need to be allowed to go outside and play, to kick a footy (Aussie Rules football) or a soccer ball with their mates, to get out in the fresh air.

    2.TV, kids are watching more of it than ever (and what they DO watch gets worse and worse, a lot of what passes for kids TV these days is pathetic compared to what was on when I was a kid)

    3.Lack of creative toys. These days parents are more likely to buy their kids a Nintendo Wii instead of toys that encourage creativity and imagination. Instead of playing with a GI-JOE action figure or a pack of army soldiers making "Pew Pew" noises, kids are playing video games where the "Pew Pew" noise is created by some guy in a sound studio.

    4.The ever increasing pressure on schools to "perform" (and to "perform better" than the school one suburb over). This leads to pressure on politicians to institute measuring systems (usually in the form of standardized tests) so that they can see which schools are doing well and which schools arent. Then, the school principals (fearful that bad scores will negatively impact the schools funding) force teachers to "teach to the test" so that schools can get higher scores (and keep their funding). Courses and lessons like music, art, dance and drama are being removed from schools as they continue to focus more on academic performance and (for those kids who show talent) performance on the football pitch or the basketball court or whatever.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @12:55PM (#32867400) Journal
    Replying to myself is bad form, but just to add:

    This transition isn't limited to computing. Every aspect of technology has improved in a similar way. How many people drove cars in the first half of the last century, but couldn't rebuild an internal combustion engine? How many now? Back when cars were new, if you couldn't function as a mechanic, you had a problem. Now, breakdowns are so rare that it's not essential knowledge.

    When I was growing up, my father had similar complaints about radio. He'd been a radio amateur when he was a child, but now radios are commodity devices and no one builds receivers themselves, so building transmitters doesn't follow. For me, the personal computer revolution was a substitute.

    There's been something similar for every generation since the industrial revolution - a technology that is starting to make an impact on consumer technology, which still requires a lot of understanding to use when you're a child and which becomes ubiquitous by the time you are an adult. I've no idea what this is for the current generation - I can't think of anything. I suspect some form of biotech will be for the next generation.

  • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stonewallred ( 1465497 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @01:36PM (#32867634)
    41 years old, grew up in the semi-rural south. When I was 10 or 11, during the summer it was hit the door around 7am or so and maybe come back for lunch or we might go to a friend's and eat, or then again, we might be 10 miles away and grab something at the general store or whatever. Had to be home by full dark was the only real rule. Now a days if a kid is out of sight, the parents want an implanted GPS and full time audio/video feed. Black powder firecrackers, made from smokeless gunpowder and newspaper with paper towel fuses soaked in rubbing alcohol (get a kid a life sentence as a terrorist today) or mixing our own special brands of pesticides out of whatever stuff looked and smelled like it would kill bugs. Homemade napalm for starting camp fires for the frog legs after we would gig up a mess of them. BB gun wars, riding bicycles in skateboard parks or out in the woods where natural gullies made ramps 10-15 foot high, all without helmets or any pads (other than those shitty ones wrapped around the bike in strategic places). I can imagine the screams of child abuse, endangerment and neglect if these modern day parents found out I was letting my kid do the same stuff.
  • by meerling ( 1487879 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:08PM (#32867856)
    Did you know that when you try to replace the case on a Nintendo DS, you have to put a strip of insulating tape on a certain piece or the unit will short out the recharger? If you don't, that Nintendo DS will never again be able to recharge it's battery.

    My brother found out the hard way.
  • Re:Play time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kbielefe ( 606566 ) <> on Sunday July 11, 2010 @02:38PM (#32868056)

    I also wonder who they would get to score the test. My 9 year-old nephew had an assignment recently where part of the instructions were to "put a line under" certain items. He used vertical lines under the items instead of horizontal lines and was heavily marked down. Now, I'm a little biased, but I would have actually given bonus points for creativity. Instead, my sister had to go to bat for him just to get the minimum score he deserved, because his teacher was completely incapable of recognizing a correct answer that happens to differ from the expected one.

  • Re:creativity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 32771 ( 906153 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @04:36PM (#32868922) Journal

    The learning curve nowadays is definitely steeper than it used to be. Compare grandma's old tube radio and your DAB receiver. While I agree that studying electrical engineering in the 40's must have helped just as much as nowadays to understand your contemporary radio, the obstacles to understanding the newer version are more plenty fold. Miniaturization is certainly a big issue here and complicated standards the other.

    It appears to me that nowadays you have neither the inclination to do so just for the hell of it, because a herd of engineers can do it much better than you nor the means to do it because you don't have the resources.

    Given that you are traveling along some sort of trajectory through the space of stuff you can learn, the inability to do certain simple things may block further more advanced things you can learn later on, once you have mastered the simpler stuff.

    I do applaud initiatives to enable interested individuals to modify whatever complex parts of the environment there are (there are hobby geneticists (I'll let you fill in the concerns)). Even if it is just a subsystem (i.e. Java programming for Android phones) it opens people a door to catch on and to take part.

    Art is a similar can of worms but compared to engineering there is still only one artist but there is also a gallerist now and a whole machinery that explains art to you.

    Overall I don't think that there should be a way back to the old days, but there should be an awareness of the widening intellectual gap between the individual and whatever system the individual interacts with. I really don't believe in jeopardizing our society by leaving large numbers of people out of the loop on what is going on around them.

  • by Alan R Light ( 1277886 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @05:24PM (#32869254)

    Don't you know that there are predators waiting on every corner? According to the NCMEC, 1,500,000 children go missing each year!!! (if you count 17 year olds who run away from home multiple times for each escape attempt - an average of 115 if you only count "typical" kidnappings).

    But seriously, I recently traveled through South America, and the kids there are like actual human beings. With a little capital and rule of law, they'll go far.

    As for North American kids: two words - "opportunity costs".

  • by Fantastic Lad ( 198284 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @07:14PM (#32869964)

    Sorry, but what exactly do most of these careers have to do with being creative? Even the ones that seem to require creativity such as inventors and authors don't have to (think product upgrades, textbooks, etc.). You might as well call it persistance.

    Based on the intelligence and lucidity of the article, I am going to assume that the authors were no dummies. With this kind of writing, one is generally summarizing a larger and more complex tract of text which I am also assuming explained the methodology of the tests and accounted for the vagaries you are complaining about. I may be wrong, but I've read enough white papers now to know how they are usually structured.

    For very interesting definitions of creative. And three times what, exactly? The problem with the entire article is that it doesn't provide numbers. Maybe none of this is even relevant. If IQ scores are rising every decade, then maybe the IQ test isn't very useful and implying your test is three times "better" doesn't say much.

    Cognitive tests of this sort have been subject to massive scrutiny by the sharpest minds in the cognitive fields, and your questions have been asked and answered. Overwhelming consensus seems to have settled on the legitimacy of such tests and the complaints against it which I skimmed through don't seem terribly indicting. As much as I like to question everything, especially orthodox beliefs, this one doesn't seem particularly broken to me.

    I would suggest reviewing the test itself and see what you think afterward, because right now you seem to be criticizing something sight unseen, which is never favorable to forming an informed opinion. If you do find something which seems really dumb, then I'd love to hear about it. But as I've said, for now I'm inclined to accept this one.


  • by kale77in ( 703316 ) on Sunday July 11, 2010 @10:31PM (#32870870) Homepage

    Then 'Learning to Think Korean' by Kohls will freak you out.

    It starts with ten or so business scenarios which will make no sense whatsoever to you, then explains why. There are reasons, you're just not attuned to them.

    This is cool too...

Executive ability is deciding quickly and getting somebody else to do the work. -- John G. Pollard